Viet Nam News
As Hà Nội’s land resource is depleted by new constructions, underground space planning assumes vital importance, Dr Đào Ngọc Nghiêm, architect and vice chairman of the Association of Hà Nội Urban Development Planning tells Kinh tế và Đô thị (Economic & Urban Affairs).
Is it time to seriously reconsider the role of underground space planning?
In the recent development of the city, some constructions already have underground spaces.
And underground constructions have always been there, sluices, water pipes, electricity cables, parking garages, and so on.
However, in general, they are mostly built for their own purposes, and lack regional or other urban linkages. There is no long-term vision in management or an overall orientation.
In developing urban areas with a long development history like Hà Nội, exploiting underground space for renovation and reconstruction is not just inevitable, but indispensable for efficient exploitation of resources and sustainable development. This would help save energy, improve land use efficiency and reduce the pressure of high construction density, help preserve the city’s heritages, and reduce pollution.
An underground space plan is the first necessary step we should take after having approved a master plan for Hà Nội to 2030, with a vision to 2050.
However, this is a new type of planning, involving many sectors. It is also linked to ground-level space. Therefore, we need careful solutions and appropriate steps. We need to learn from foreign experiences and apply modern science and technology solutions.
What are some of the urgent problems that such a plan should address?
Under the existing regulatory framework, the underground space plan is of two types: an overall plan for a city and detailed plans for an urban area or a technical specialty.
An overall plan needs to address the following factors: forecast growth needs, assigning of zones to build underground constructions, including public constructions, clearly defining zones where underground constructions are restricted or prohibited, designing an underground transport system, and determining the system of water pipes and sluices, power transmission lines and so on.
The functions of on-the-ground and underground spaces should be closely intertwined to increase the efficiency of both spaces.
This is the appropriate time to do this job and the city authorities should not miss it.
Which kind of difficulties that Hà Nội must solve to formulate and realise this plan?
Underground space planning is a new type of construction planning. It is complicated and challenging. Hà Nội should first conduct an overall study on the current status of on-the-ground constructions and existing underground ones.
The city should have correct assessments of natural conditions, including geology and hydrology. This is a big challenge and needs co-operation among various sectors, agencies, investors and owners.
It is also necessary for the city to propose concrete policies on related issues like: issuance of ownership certificate for underground constructions; land use certificate or land tax policy in cases where underground constructions are built for business purposes; preferential policies for certain types of underground space to encourage organisations and individuals to build underground spaces of urgent need, like parking garages.
Besides, a set of criteria on building underground urban space should be compiled to create legal grounds for management. The Ministry of Construction and related ministries should collaborate to do this work.
In the long term, what do you expect from an underground urban space?
Underground space is not just systems of cables, pipes, metro, parking garages and tunnels for vehicles or pedestrians.
It can also be shopping centres, public space for community activities, multi-function constructions which can be used as office or residential areas. A second aspect is that key spaces lying totally underground can return space for parks, trees and recreational and entertainment centres at the ground level. – VNS