North Dalat Master Plan wins at Ashui Awards 2020

01.2021 – Ho Chi Minh City: enCity is proud to announce that our project, the North Dalat Master Plan, has won Future Project of the Year at the Ashui Awards 2020. Conferred by a selection committee of industry experts and public online voting, the award is given to innovative solutions that respond to Vietnam’s pressing urban issues and exemplify potential for the future.

Founded in 2000, Ashui is Vietnam’s leading media company in the construction industry, covering a wide range of international conferences, seminars and workshops attended by renowned architects, developers, and urban planners all over the world. The Ashui Awards were established in 2012 to recognise trailblazing professionals, buildings, projects, and innovations that have made outstanding contributions to the sustainable development of Vietnam through its ten distinguishing categories.

Ms. Trang Vuong (left) and Ms. Duong Vuong (right) receiving the award at the ceremony held in Ho Chi Minh City

 

The results for this year’s awards were released last 31 December 2020, and the awards ceremony was held on 17 January 2021 at the Ashui Pavilion in Thao Dien, Ho Chi Minh City. The grand event was attended by enCity’s Vice Managing Director, Ms. Trang Vuong, and Senior Associate for Planning and Design, Ms. Duong Vuong, who received the award.

Ms. Duong Vuong reviewing North Dalat Master Plan board exhibited at the ceremony

With the vision of celebrating local heritage and healing nature, the winning North Dalat Master Plan is a 180-hectare development that strikes a balance between environmental preservation, cultural awareness, and economic development. It comprises of three districts: Forest Gardens, which embodies Dalat’s image of liveable communities under pine forest canopies with scenic views to Langbian Peak; Lakeside District, which promotes the heritage of the site through the seamless integration of old and new development; and Green Spine, which acts as the project’s ecological backbone that facilitates connection between the north and south.  The over-all design was derived from an integrated approach consisting of market research, land management, on-site resettlement, heritage conservation, landscape strategies and technical infrastructure to create a comprehensive development that reduces the need for household relocation and minimizes the concretisation of natural landscapes, while ensuring commercial viability.

The North Dalat Masterplan by enCity

Ms. Duong Vuong, who has worked on the project since its conception in 2018, shares her experience and insights on the North Dalat Master Plan.

What made the context of this project compelling to you?

The history and image of the city. Dalat was built by the French, in their ambition to create a “home in a faraway country”. They wanted to turn it into the capital of Indochina back then so they built numerous civic buildings and educational facilities. The city became like a resort, but also a university town. The Vietnamese slowly reclaimed the city after the war, and people from around the country went to settle down and study there because of its very high quality of education. Over time, locals also brought their own culture to Dalat’s character, with Vietnamese architects designing some of its key buildings and contributing to the city’s heritage value. Because of the climate, forest landscape and its human-scaled urbanism, it is a very good place to nurture ideas, knowledge, and talent.

Can you walk us through the big moves of the proposal?

When you look at Dalat’s master plan, which is based on the original sketch of Ernest Hebrard, you can see some similarities with our plan. He created this system of open space to preserve the natural topography and to ensure views all the way to Langbiang Mountain. We had a similar idea, to emphasize and respect the site’s topography through designing a green spine. For a unique place like Dalat, it is very important that we first learn from the past, share the same vision with its people, and reinstate its essence to today’s context.

 

The Green Spine at the north leverages on Dalat’s natural assets with a view deck looking towards Langbiang Peak

Along this green spine, we put infrastructure that can really bring people from the south all the way up to the north. We created a destination up in the north with an educational centre, a school for gifted students. The city had already planned to put a school within the site, but we relocated it to a much more favourable and suitable location for development.

How will the new masterplan positively impact surrounding communities?

The green spine, in conjunction with the road network, connects everything together and brings out the original value of Dalat city: its culture, education and heritage, all bound together under the pine canopy, which gives its unique leisure- and resort-like atmosphere. By creating a new secondary city centre developed from the existing structure, and by reintroducing the lake and planning the open space system, it gives the chance for new economic opportunities. Environmentally, the masterplan reduces the need for plastic greenhouses, gives back open space and repletes the pine forest. Socially, it lessens the population and pollution pressure on the existing centre. Culturally, it draws lessons learnt from the past and reintroduces it to the future.

Villas at the Forest Garden District bring back Dalat’s charm of living under pine tree canopies while respecting the site’s topography

What other insights about the project would you like to share?

Dalat is quite famous for tourism, but mostly domestic tourism. Many people come here, and they bring a lot of population and infrastructure pressure. Rapid urbanization, together with growing unsustainable ways of farming, has led to the destruction of pine forests inside the city. There are also people from outside who come here to build hospitality facilities, like hotels and homestays, turning most of the land into concrete. They build big blocks, commercial centres, and destroy the heritage because they believe it to be the most economically profitable way to capture the number of tourists.

The Lakeside District integrates the old with the new in a vibrant public waterfront hub

Our proposal shows how you can turn the site’s unique characteristics into new opportunities. It shows you that revenue is gained not only through building big blocks, but more so through co-existing with nature and heritage to manifest the site’s original existing value.

Find out more about the project and the Ashui Awards here.