The Transformation of Public Space in Hanoi

  • Sandra Kürten (Autor/in)


The following article is a research note concerning an ongoing project on the transformation of public space in Hanoi, Vietnam. The research itself focuses on the changes in power relations between the state and society and how these are reflected in the physical environment of the city. Since the introduction of the Vietnamese Doi Moi economic reform programme in 1986, a physical transformation of public space has been observed as well as a shift in its symbolic meaning. Based on the assumption that diverse social groups attach different meanings to urban objects, power relations in the city’s landscape become visible. While the private sector dominates the development of new public and semi-public spaces like New Urban Areas and shopping malls, the general public in Hanoi constantly redefines existing public spaces by utilising them for private economic and social activities. Embedded in the discipline of urban sociology, the project seeks to contribute to the discussion of the correlation between the public sphere as a sociological/political category and the morphology and practices of public space.