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Thu Duc City: A model city of the 21st century

Thu Duc City- a pioneer city in the model of “A city in a city” - is not only a driving force for economic development but also a lever to heighten people’s living standards. It is expected to contribute 30% of GRDP of HCMC and 7% GDP of the country.

“A city in a city” - is not only a driving force for economic development but also a lever to heighten people’s living standards, it is expected to contribute 30% of GRDP of HCMC and 7% GDP of the country

So how to Thu Duc City can develop in the right direction, for the dream of “Thu Duc City - A model city of the 21st century, soon to be true. At the beginning of the new year, Vietnam Logistics Review Magazine had a talk with the Architect, Doctor of Science Ngo Viet Nam Son on the matter.

Thu Duc City is expected to be the core of development for HCMC. In your opinion, what factors should be set as priorities for Thu Duc to be developed in the right direction?

Architect, Doctor of Science Ngo Viet Nam Son shared about the Planning of Thu Duc City - Photo: Pho Ba Cuong

Ngo Viet Nam Son- Architect, Doctor of Science- is currently the Chairman of Ngo Viet Architects& Planners. He has over 30 years of international experience in architectural design and planning consulting in Asia and North America; he was a member of the SOM design consulting team to plan the Saigon South and the downtown of Pudong and Puxi, Shanghai, China.

An eastern city needs strategic planning directions to connect with neighbor provinces: Thu Duc City should play a role of the HCMC’s core. In the East, it connects Long Thanh Airport (Dong Nai) and Thi Vai - Cai Mep Port (Ba Ria - Vung Tau) and the railroad hub in Dong Nai Province. We should not limit the planning visions in zones of administrative boundaries; we should have a further one. Thu Duc City needs a key infrastructure with inter-region connection values for each localities’ socio-economic developments, in the regional relationship connection between the Southeastern and the Southern Key Economic Zone.

The matter of the planning to develop regional connection transport system of Thu Duc City should be well calculated to connect with the key infrastructures as HCMC - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway, Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien Metro, Bien Hoa - Vung Tau Expressway, and Pham Van Dong St,… Transport should be given priority to create a traffic system connecting the inner city and the city to regions conveniently.

The development of the Eastern city is not merely an urban development. It is more important to develop spearhead economic sectors from production establishments and working establishments which offer job opportunities to residents.

“Good settlement brings good opportunities” is also one of the most important factors. When planning of Thu Duc City is carried out, it is important to focus on working centers, besides planning residential areas.

It is possible to expect Thu Duc City to become a Vietnam’s Silicon Valley. To do so, we should focus on developments of R&D area, production area, and hi-tech trade service area- a kind of closed circle as urban-university areas of worldclass universities by upgrading the National University, the Technical Education University and Fulbright University. The universities will play a training role, providing qualified human resource to hi-tech zones. The hi-tech zones then will make qualified products to export worldwide, through the logistics network. At the same time, Thu Thiem financial area will helps attract investment sources and other resources locally and internationally.

Logistics infrastructure is an advantages we need to develop. Many logistics activities are being carried out in the areas of Dist. 2, Dist. 9 and Thu Duc Dist., where there are ports of Cat Lai and Truong Tho,… However, the attention to the logistics in the city master plan is rather modest. Thu Duc City has its logistics potentials which has not been properly paid attention to. Logistics is an important link in cargo transport through multi-modal transport flows, creating a huge job opportunity offer.

In your evaluations, are there any “tight knots” that need to be removed for the new appearance of HCMC?

With such a large project, the emerging problem is investment attraction. According to preliminary calculation from the Department of Transport, merely the budget needed for transport infrastructure is VND 300,000bn, excluding those needed for other ones as social infrastructure, industry infrastructure and technical infrastructures. Thu Duc will need a huge source of capital and certainly, the public budget cannot afford. It should come from socialized ones- using its own resources to develop it. And the matter is how to have plans-where investors want to build their projects of hi-tech parks or property- that ensure people’s benefits in infrastructures, public utilities and environment.

HCMC should give higher power to Thu Duc City regarding to its specific management mechanism

And when there are new roads, the land price along these roads will increase by several dozen times. It is a huge responsibility of HCMC’s local authority to make good use of benefits from the land fund: to regain capital for reinvestment.

HCMC should give higher power to Thu Duc City regarding to its specific management mechanism. If it takes too much time for approval- there are projects that take years- we will be unable to create the city in the East.

With personal experience, when I participated in the design team of the downtown of Pudong, Shanghai, the China’s Government was very concerned with the matter of authority: the head of Pudong has as much authority as the Vice- Chairman of The People’s Committee of Shanghai does. Particularly, Pudong’s managers have authority in attracting investment capital: they are able to make decisions by themselves, not waiting for permission from the central authority. If they do not do so, they can lose their opportunities. With such the mechanism, leaders can approve projects and company licenses fast in weekly unit.

With an area of 212km2 and the total population of up to 1.1 million people, including many functional subdivisions and with the responsibility to contribute 1/3 of the HCMC’s GRDP. With such an urban structure, is Thu Duc City capable to do so?

We have a beginning not from scratch. GRDP of Dist. 2, Dist. 9 and Thu Duc Dist. are at high level. It is our duty to upgrade it. Currently, the existing population is 1 million. To implement the project of building a city in the East that is capable to contribute over 1/3 of the city GRDP’s as expected. HCMC should have a good development strategy with phasing plans to implement projects of high feasibility. In addition, Thu Duc City needs at least a half of million new residents more.

Thu Duc City needs to have an additional 500,000 to 1 million people

Within the next one to two decades, Thu Duc City needs to have an additional 500,000 to 1 million people. To meet that requirement set out, the city must attract high-quality residents. High-quality residents here mean those with knowledge, qualifications, high income, bringing valuable products to the city. This is a long-term plan, the city not only develops traffic infrastructure, builds urban high-rise buildings and commercial services, but also creates a source of jobs, bringing economic efficiency.

This is the land with potentially advantages with many important infrastructures and lots of vacant land for project development with no difficulties in compensation and clearance. With the advantages, we can apply principles of a new modern city, in contrary with the current one. Instead of townhouses, motorcycles, roadside shops and markets in downtown, we will have large roads with high-speed traffic, fast bus routes, metro routes and large parks thanks to efficient use of the land from building high-rise buildings. Therefore, Thu Duc City will have a new appearance as a city that is worth living like those in Europe or in the U.S. However, there are options that are suitable to Vietnam’s culture and people.

If Thu Duc City is successful as expected, will it possible to apply the model to the rest of HCMC gateways?

In recent years, HCMC has always cherished its desires and plans to divide the city into the model of "cities in the city". HCMC is divided into the inner city center and the gateway cities of East, West, South and North; each city will have its own specific development.

Building of satellite cities will help decrease population pressure, giving a new appearance to the city and will be a trend for the progress of urbanization.

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