Delivering architecture to meet rapid urbanisation in Ho Chi Minh City

In Ho Chi Minh City, aspirations of becoming a smart city by 2025 have been unveiled by the Government – while rapid urbanisation and increased levels of tourism have brought the need for urgent and high quality development. Architecture is on the rise – and intelligent, sustainability-based design solutions, delivering a new level of organisation and purpose are highly sought after.

Notable international architectural firms – BSBG included – have placed large amounts of resources in to setting up operations within Vietnam’s largest metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City; and there are numerous reasons for this. The construction sector is showing impressive signs of growth, the city makes for a great gateway to reach the rest of South East Asia, and most importantly of all perhaps – there is a huge appetite for change in the approach to architectural development. More dynamic and sustainability-based considerations in building design, effused with highly proficient delivery programmes, are exactly what The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee are looking for right now.This new outlook targets developing HCMC into a smart city by the year 2025, which will see the increased use of data and technology to improve efficiency and sustainability in the city, contributing to economic development and enhancing the quality of life for residents. Development on the scale required needs huge levels of investment, both foreign and from home soil, and major construction projects will incorporate infrastructure and buildings capable of playing host to the technology required to make a city ‘smart’, while offering value, sustainability and efficiency.

A shifting balance

From Saigon River to Downtown, there is a sense that the balance is already shifting, and that there is an appetite for civic improvements coupled with a desire for modern architecture that respects the cultural blueprint of the city. Widespread construction is in evidence, and recently completed projects have served to improve life in the city.

Andrew Meehan, Lead Architect and Office Manager of BSBG’s Asian office in HCMC, Vietnam, explains that there is a new level of confidence in Ho Chi Minh City at this moment, with increased investment, tourism and industry playing an important role. “Vietnam, and in particular HCMC, has become one of the brightest lights in Asia. Foreign investment reached an all time high in December 2017 of $17.50 billion, while both manufacturing and tourism are on the increase,” he explains.Tourism has increased by 30% over the last 12 months, positioning Vietnam as one of the world’s top 10 fastest growing travel destinations. But current infrastructure is still not advanced enough to manage the tens of millions of tourists that come to Ho Chi Minh City each year. The city’s current airport has a maximum capacity for 25 million passengers annually; last year it dealt with 32.5 million. A new airport is planned to deal with the continued increase in numbers, although no dates have yet been confirmed for the project at the time of writing.


“Architecture needs to retain a focus on public engagement, with thoughtful design and creative solutions”

Andrew Meehan, BSBG Vietnam Lead Architect and Office Manager


As well as tourism numbers, growth on a similar scale is being witnessed in the population of the city itself, which brings a whole new set of challenges. Andrew continues: “It’s predicted that HCMC’s population will reach more than 13 million by 2025. The level of infrastructure needed to allow for commuting from the outer districts to the city is not yet in place. There is a new metro line likely to be finished we think by 2020, and this will go some way to enhancing connectivity in the district. But more still needs to be done.”

Intelligent design

There is an increased recognition of the need for intelligent architecture and smart urban planning, according to Andrew, which will help HCMC to modernise while retaining its character, as the city moves into a crucial stage in its development. “Architecture has a significant role to play in developing HCMC the right way,” Andrew states. “The quality of the built form here is on the increase, but architecturally speaking there is scope to further improve planning of urban density, the location of public amenities and tall buildings, to allow for maximum access to natural light at ground level, providing adequate levels of air circulation, and preserving existing architecture through renovation.”Andrew also considers that there is a need to work hard on conserving diminishing green spaces, and on increasing these vertically. Public parks, he says, have become another victim of the rapid urbanisation in the city. “Architecture needs to retain a focus on public engagement, with thoughtful design and creative solutions,” he says. “Thoughtful design must incorporate building positioning, functionality and identity, while density should be centralised to reduce urban sprawl, providing an identifiable character and preserving the open green spaces that define some of HCMC’s most charming districts.”This is an area in which Andrew says BSBG can contribute and help to create a lasting legacy for the future of HCMC. Renowned for its Lead Consultancy expertise, from concept, through construction, the BSBG approach is perfectly suited to the demands of developing the city with sustainability and thoughtful design as central concerns.

READ  International standards: BSBG Vietnam staff fly into Dubai to work on crucial projects

“It’s a very exciting time for development in HCMC at the moment,” Andrew says. “Ambitious and transformative architectural projects are needed quickly to aid the move to become a smart city, while also managing the tourism numbers expected. These are very challenging projects to execute effectively, and this is where the expertise of BSBG can play an important role in the growth of Ho Chi Minh City. We are one of a select group of multi-disciplinary architects currently in the city with the design and delivery capabilities that match up to the ambitions HCMC has for its future. We’re well-equipped and fully prepared to play a significant role in the projects on the horizon here, and our commitment is to providing a higher level of leadership, organisation, value and quality to the projects needed to fulfill the aspirations of sustainable growth in the city.”BSBG has advanced to become an internationally revered architect over the course of more than 40 years from its Headquarters in Dubai, where aggressive urbanisation saw growth on a dramatic scale. From its beginnings as a small fishing village, Dubai’s growth in the space of two decades was expeditious, and it is now the fourth most visited city in the world. “There are similarities between Dubai and HCMC, in terms of the outlook the leadership have adopted here,” Andrew says, “They have designs on becoming one of the top tourist cities in Asia, and they also have to manage a rapidly growing population. Dubai went through something similar, where the will of the leadership to make the city a top destination for business and tourism saw massive new developments and districts built in a very short period of time. BSBG played a central role in that development, and our hallmark can be seen all over Dubai.”“Our expertise in masterplanning and tall building development suits the current vertical approach adopted in HCMC; particularly as the need for top quality high-rise residential apartment buildings becomes more apparent. We’re looking at the tourism sector too, as numerous upscale and mid-range hotels are projected for development. Our portfolio includes work for many of the world’s leading hoteliers – Hilton, The Dorchester Collection, The Langham, Le Meridien, Staybridge, Aloft, Hyatt – the list goes on… We’re primed for design and delivery of world-renowned hotel developments. There is a very strong alignment between the values and working methodology we have at BSBG and the needs of HCMC moving forward, and I expect to see the group come in to play a part in some very significant projects in the city shortly.”

BSBG Vietnam has an office of 25 experienced architects and technologists, and is an integral component of the international group, which has successfully designed and delivered projects in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Find out more about BSBG Vietnam here, or contact BSBG Vietnam directly for any project enquiries.