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1. New Towns Meet Villages

Bridging the gap: new towns and village-based urbanization in Hanoi, Vietnam

A new high-rise building overlooks a temple in one of Hanoi's many urban villages. Credit : D. Labbé

A new high-rise building overlooks a temple in one of Hanoi's many urban villages. Credit : D. Labbé


This 2-year study (2016-2018) is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It is led by Dr. Danielle Labbé, the head of the CRC in Sustainable urbanisation in the global south and brings together three co-investigators: Dr. Michael Leaf from the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British-Columbia, Dr. Ta Quynh Hoa from the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the National University of Civil Engineering of Hanoi and Dr. Gabriel Fauveaud, from the Department of Geography and International Studies Program at the University of Montreal. 

Objectives and approach

This research has three primary objectives:

i) to document and analyze the destabilizing effects that large integrated urban development projects known in Vietnam as "new urban areas" have on pre-existing periurban territories and societies already engaged in their own urban transition (or village-based urbanization);

ii) to understand how both local governments and communities respond to such challenges; and, ultimately

iii) to use this knowledge to formulate arguments and scenarios for planning and governance adaptations.

The study focuses on Hanoi (Vietnam). We will document the institutional landscape of periurban space production in this rapidly growing city. Through a detailed case-study we will also investigate the socioeconomic and sociospatial interrelations between a new town and the pre-existing people and territory surrounding it. This will allow the identification of opportunities (in terms of innovative planning practices, policy sets, and grassroots practices) that may foster a better integration of new towns into their periurban milieu, which we will test through a prospective planning workshop.

Expected Results

At the scholarly level, this study will advance knowledge about the ways in which new town production shapes an emerging metropolitan region in rapidly urbanizing Southeast Asia. More specifically, it will illuminate how competing intentions, practices, and representations of urban space and urbanity, held by different parts of Vietnamese society, come together during the urban outward expansion process. At the practical level, this study will identify obstacles and possibilities relative to existing planning practices and policies that can be addressed to integrate new suburban neighbourhoods and pre-existing periurban communities and territories into more socially just metropolitan regions.