Hanoi’s old French Quarter is a historic district (1880-1940) containing the largest grouping of Indochinese heritage sites in southeast Asia. Whereas this 200 ha area, located in the heart of the Vietnamese capital, is subject to the pressures of a brutal and disorderly urban development, local concern about the disappearance of colonial villas is growing.
The aim of this study is to guide the approach of Vietnamese urban planners by proposing a methodology of analysis, an urban project and then a regulatory tool that will enable this strategic area to increase in density and thereby meet the new challenges of a booming Asian capital without erasing its historical aspect.
The project highlights and draws on the specificities of the district as so many «heritages» to be revealed: a draughtboard layout made up of wide avenues, an exceptional abundance of trees lining streets, an architectural heritage expressed in an array of colonial buildings of various kinds: monuments, civic, cultural or religious buildings, commercial and residential buildings.
It emphasises the district’s historical legibility and its position as an interface with other key areas of the capital: the traditional neighbourhood of the 36 streets, Hoan Kiem Lake, the station district, the southern extensions, the dyke road and the Red River.
Its purpose is to imagine a densification around the villas and buildings, to be preserved but also to develop green channels, drawing on the exceptional plant heritage already existing, so as to mitigate the effects of a development process which tends to suffocate the capital.