Danielle Labbé, École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage, Université de Montréal
The production of open public spaces, such as parks, public gardens, and playgrounds, has experienced major changes in urban Vietnam in the last two decades. Starting in the late 1990s, public policies have sought to transfer a significant part of the responsibility to invest, design, build, and manage these spaces from the public to the private sector. Twenty years on, few studies have examined the outcomes of this major policy shift. This paper presents the results of a pilot study responding to this gap. Drawing on the cases of two areas at the near periphery of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it critically reviews the policies and institutional mechanisms governing the private production of open public spaces in Vietnamese cities and assesses their outcomes in terms of the quantity, types, and quality of the spaces produced. We find that current policies do not provide sufficient incentives to ensure the provision of enough open public spaces in newly urbanized districts. We further find that most of the open public spaces produced by the private sector consists of very small or decorative spaces that support very few activities, or are exclusive spaces. Moreover, the few larger open public spaces produced by the private sector provide insufficient basic facilities and equipment. Governmental authorities therefore need to reconsider the balance of responsibilities between the public and private sectors with regards to open public space provision, to avoid the development of urban areas severely deficient in these essential amenities.
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