Experts call for Hà Nội to become a 'creative city'

November 29, 2022 - 09:00
Cultural industry development is a new issue, and Hà Nội does not have much experience promoting its potential advantages.
An overview of central Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Trung Nguyên

HÀ NỘI — Many of Hà Nội's historical factories are being moved outside the city and experts are united in their calls for these locations to be set up as creative spaces, particularly as Hà Nội is working towards joining UNESCO's creative cities network.

Associate Professor Phạm Thúy Loan, a representative from the Asian Industrial Heritage Conservation Network in Việt Nam, said that the country had industrial buildings with heritage value, but no industrial heritage.

The concept of industrial heritage has yet to be legalised or included in legal documents, making it impossible to protect those heritages.

She said that was the biggest barrier to protecting industrial heritage in Việt Nam.

Cultural industry development is a new issue, and Hà Nội does not have much experience promoting its potential advantages.

Phạm Thị Lan Anh, head of the Heritage Management Division under the Hà Nội Department of Culture and Sports, said that the city authorities paid much interest and hoped that industrial heritage would become a part of the capital city's urban and cultural heritage.

Many countries recognise industrial heritage as a part of their cultural and social history.

Alban Corbier-Labasse, director of the Friche la Belle de Mai Cultural Complex in Marseille, France, said the complex was successful thanks to the combination of two wills. One is the government's will, and the other is the people's initiative.

He said that optimal use of existing space and reserving space for future creative purposes was essential.

Therefore, together with leisure activities, the complex is becoming an attractive address for local people and many tourists.

The Utrecht Community (Uco) workspace is another example.

Converted from a dilapidated train depot of the Dutch Railways, the Uco has provided 1,800sq.m for work, meetings and performances.

The Uco building was designed and followed standards throughout its renovation.

Uco considered every detail to find sustainable solutions during its renovation and furnishing.

The design brings fresh air and uses non-toxic materials and natural light.

That's why this space has worked effectively over the years by reusing an industrial heritage combined with energy-efficient sustainable design.

Creative city

In July this year, the Hà Nội People's Council passed a resolution with a list of buildings that must be relocated. Of these, nine industrial buildings must be relocated within five years.

The resolution included a method of relocation and conversion of these buildings and a plan for management and taking-over vacant land after relocation.

But the plan caused many challenges for the city when there were no policies, regulations, methods of industrial heritage appraisal and no successful model of heritage reconstruction.

Architect Phan Đăng Sơn, chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Architects, said that it would be a pity if the nine buildings were transferred to urban areas with economic value only.

It they was rebuilding towards industrial heritage, it would open up many opportunities for Hà Nội to develop into a creative city.

Architect Phạm Trung Hiếu, lecturer at the Hà Nội University of Architecture, who gave proposals to convert the Gia Lâm Train Factory, said that the relocation of nine old factories would open a huge land bank for the city.

This is an opportunity for Hà Nội to have enough space to transform and become a dynamic creative city.

Hiếu suggested that the creative cultural space converted from those locations ensure three components; adaptive conservation of valuable heritage, creative community space, and space for green trees.

All should be linked into a lively landscape system.

Many other architects agreed that rebuilding old factories needed to be suitable with the surrounding background, ensuring economic values, preserving culture and minimising environmental impacts.

Those buildings should include creative spaces for exhibitions, seminars, and places to nurture start-ups.

The city and residents will enjoy not only culture but also a place to promote creative economic activities. — VNS