Water is not only one of the most important elements in constructing and developing green townships, but also one of the “weapon we can use to combat natural disasters”, according to Mr. Dzung Do Nguyen – Co-founder and CEO of enCity.
Green townships: A key solution for future cities
Nowadays, many urban planners aspire to create green urban spaces that build community and motivation, turning cities in Vietnam into livable green townships.
Vietnamese cities have been growing rapidly, with transport infrastructure dominating the landscape and increasing private vehicle ownership. This limits opportunities for sustainable development and results in wasted resources and loss of local character, as well as loss of habitat. Sustainable urban development is a crucial tool for planners, enabling more efficient use of natural resources, protecting habitat and limiting the expansion of hardscape in cities. Many cities around the world have begun taking a similar approach.
However, the concept of sustainable development, or ‘green townships’ is still quite new in Vietnam. Many still perceive “green” to mean an urban area with many parks, trees and waterways, or development with solar panels and vertical greenery. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, developments are often called ‘eco-cities’ or ‘green cities’ when in reality this means they just have an abundance of trees or well-designed public spaces. Both of these features are positive, but are not enough to be labelled “green” or “sustainable”.
In order to find innovative solutions for future cities in Vietnam, planning experts have studied and researched sustainable urban construction in many places around the world.
Green urban development is a necessary solution which allows us to use natural resources in a sustainable and efficient way and minimise the use of hardscape. (Photo: Ecopark)
Using nature itself to combat its risks
A green township is an urban area blending well with nature, balancing tree cover and waterways with development, often with constructed waterways such as detention basins. However, we should also consider natural historic waterfronts in water-friendly township construction, for example, taking advantage of a natural tributary of a river, a canal or a reservoir accreted by nature.
In a webinar with the topic of “Green and innovative township construction for future cities”, Mr. Dzung Do Nguyen shared his view that water is the source of life, and there would be no people without water. Therefore, water is a core historical element in cities’ development.
According to Mr. Nguyen, the retention of natural water bodies helps to enhance biodiversity, thereby creating a place in harmony with nature by using nature itself to combat its . This is a good starting point and inspiration for cities that wish to avoid the consequences of climate change.
“In my opinion, firstly, green townships need to be culturally green which means we have to respect and preserve existing cultural values. Water-friendly settlement is one of the most important features of Vietnamese urban culture. I have worked on many innovative townships and there are always 2 requirements for them: Firstly, an inspiring space for scientists must be created. Secondly, a green city in harmony with nature must be guaranteed. Thus, I believe that water is one of the most important elements in constructing and developing green and innovative townships”, said Mr. Dzung.
The founder of enCity gave examples of successful water-friendly townships in Vietnam that preserve historic waterfronts. Tam Da area in Thu Duc City, an innovative township in Ho Chi Minh City, was one example given. In Tam Da, canals are centrally located. They play a key role not only in retaining and draining water, but also in good transportation services and tourism.
Another example given was the STIP development under Binh Duong Province’s economic transition. This project is innovatively implemented on the basis of preserving and optimising a canal located between the Be River area and Dau Tieng Lake. In particular, Dau Tieng Lake is a very important water-supply for the South of the country. The water infrastructure within STIP greatly contributes to creating a friendly environment for people, and reducing the risk of flooding for downstream areas.
The planning expert also shared that water-friendly lives are closely associated with the history of urban development in Vietnam. In the future, waterfronts will be enjoyable spaces in green cities. Therefore, combining the natural waterfronts in urban spaces is a smart way to build and develop green townships.