HCMC, Việt Nam’s largest city
Being Việt Nam’s main engine of economic growth, HCMC attracts a large number of migrants every year. Its strong urban growth and dynamic demographic has resulted in urban sprawl and “verticalization” or rapid increase of high-rise buildings, bringing considerable change to the urban fabric of the city and its relationship with the people who live there.
HCMC’s ambition is to become one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia. However, the city still faces many challenges, such as controlling spontaneous urban expansion, bringing about urban renewal, increasing the housing stock (particularly housing for low-income families) and protecting and developing green spaces and waterways.
Lyon, European metropolis
Being France’s second city in terms of population and economic power, and recognised as a major European metropolis, Lyon also faces challenges such as how to control urban sprawl, nurture architectural innovation, increase the coverage of the public transport system, build and improve housing to meet sustainable development demands and protect both the built and natural urban heritage. At present, Lyon is also implementing several major urban projects such as Lyon Confluence, Lyon Part-Dieu and Carré de Soie, which illustrate the city’s ambitious economic and environmental agenda (green architecture, development of eco-quarters).
Thoughts on a sustainable city
The development of urban sprawl significantly increases the distances travelled by residents from their homes to their places of work, resulting in greater dependence on private vehicles. In HCMC, new purpose-built urban centres such as Phú Mỹ Hưng and Thủ Thiêm have created greener, more modern and more sustainable models of living and working. The central square project at Thủ Thiêm presents a new image of a public space where quality of life is the main criterion.
A modern city with heritage value
As population increases, the process of “verticalisation” can result in significant change to a city skyline. To cope with the pressure on the land, both cities have sought ways to combine modern development with the preservation of heritage. In HCMC, the presence of trees in parks and alongside boulevards and waterway embankments, and the artistic illumination of significant architectural works of heritage value such as the People’s Committee headquarters, the Post Office and the Opera House, have greatly increased the attractiveness and urban quality of the city.
While great challenges still lie ahead for the two cities, each continuously seeks ways to modernise its infrastructure and urban networks, while preserving its distinct identity. In HCMC as well as in Lyon, the city authorities are concerned to improve the quality of life for their inhabitants through a variety of means, notably the development of public spaces.