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P r ob le m S ta te m e nt “The two main factors of promoting urban vitality in a new town are in the product i.e., urban vitality and in the process i.e., masterplanning process.”

Urban Vitality in Asian New Towns Some studies that have been done about new towns in Asia focuses on: stakeholder dynamic and implemented results (Hartog, 2010); development theme and implementation process (Keeton, 2011); dynamic between planned and the unplanned cities (Provoost, 2010); similarities with capitalist first world city (Rimmer and Dick, 1998); and urban vitality (Zhou, 2012). The latter study in particular (Zhou, 2012) mentioned the common problem of many recent new towns to be “the difficulty of making a town into a socially, culturally and economically balanced city”. The tendency is for the new town developer to focus on form, image, speed and profit and resulted in lack of urban vitality in many new towns, especially in the emerging cities e.g., Asian and African new towns (Zhou, 2012; Hartog, 2010; Provoost, 2010; Keeton, 2011). This lack of urban vitality is what usually mentioned as ‘ghost town’ phenomena. Based on the study by Zhou (2012), one of the main factors of promoting urban vitality in new town lies in the relationship between the place, people, and program – as what she illustrated as urban vitality triangle (Figure 3). The relationship among the three factors are not equal, with each factor influencing each other factors along with the agents i.e., private initiatives, urban governance, and spatial planning. Understanding the dynamics of these factors is arguably the key to promote urban vitality in a new town. These dynamics is derived based on the generalized definition of urban vitality for in her research. For this definition, she referred majorly to Montgomery (1998), Canter (1977), Jacobs (1961), Lynch (1960) and Punter (1991). For this graduation project, definition of urban vitality needs to be clearly defined (see Chapter 2.2).

Apart from the urban vitality, the common problem of new towns in Asia lies in the masterplanning process. Hartog (2010) and Keeton (2011) extensively discuss the masterplanning process of Shanghai new towns, especially in the stakeholder dynamic, implementation process, and the implemented results. Based on their studies, the problem is not on the spatial design form (the masterplan, urban design, and architecture), but more on the implementation process and the implemented result. They demonstrated that clearly in the case study of Sonjiang New Town (Figure 4), where the forms are ‘inspired’ by British old towns (which supposedly have a good urban vitality), was implemented exactly like it, and yet the town suffered to be a ‘ghost town’ with less people living there than was originally planned. This problem in the implementation process and results happen in many Asian new towns e.g., Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Seoul, Shanghai, etc (Hartog, 2010; Keeton, 2011). Existing studies about new town as mentioned above become the starting point of defining the problem field of this graduation project. In short, the two main factors of promoting urban vitality in a new town are in the product i.e., urban vitality and in the process i.e., masterplanning process. These two factors are two sides of the same coin: to make a new town vital, the two factors needed to be thoroughly addressed. Hence, these two factors needed to be further investigated especially relationship between the two, and how it links to the context of Asian new town, specific for this graduation project: Hanoi.

Figure 3.  Urban VItality Triangle (Zhou, 2012)

Figure 4.  Songjiang New Town / Thames Town (source:

AR3U100 G r a d u a t i o n L A B: Ci t i e s f o r P e o p le - of Tomor row


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P1 Report - Cities for People -of Tomorrow  

P1 Report - Cities for People -of Tomorrow