Promoting urban vitality in the masterplanning process of Ecopark New Town in Hanoi
This graduation project juxtaposes two opposing ideas: Gehl’s 'Cities for People’ from 2013 and Le Corbusier's ‘City of Tomorrow’ from 1947. It seeks to give an answer to the intriguing question of how to create cities for people, as Gehl proposes, from scratch as new towns, as Le Corbusier proposes. This question is particularly relevant in Asia, where in many cases new towns make up the largest part of the urban area (more than 80% of Hanoi and 70% of Shanghai) but leave little room for urban vitality. In this project Hanoi is used as a test case for assessing the characteristics of urban vitality and their application in the design. This assessment has been made by examining the accessibility aspect. The whereabouts of key facilities have been itemized and the spatial integration examined, using the Space Syntax model, in areas with a radius increasing from 800 metres via 2700 metres to worldwide.
The next step consists of on-site observations done using methods borrowed from the Gehl Institute and taking place at three central city sites in Hanoi. These take in not just the quantitative aspect but also examine the qualitative aspects of local principles of urban vitality in the city centre. These observations and findings are then interpreted and applied in the design of the new town, a working method seldom adhered to when designing masterplans for new towns in Asia.
The design operates at four scales: street, superblock, masterplan and region. The idea is to learn from the local context. To this end, the vitality principles as observed in the centres of Hanoi have been interpreted and subsequently implemented at each scale.
The final step is to evaluate the measures relating to urban vitality and the masterplanning process. One way is to evaluate the design using four personas, each with their own occupation, living standards and demands, that question the status quo of Hanoi new towns. In current design practice no one wonders who is going to use the space and in what way. Another way is to evaluate the design using the four urban design processes: design, development, management and the use of space. The deeper intention of these evaluations is to make explicit the design decisions that need taking at each scale and document their consequences for urban vitality. This brings to light aspects that can be used to develop and manage new towns.