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News Release


Urban Evolution

By Greg Ohan, Director, Vietnam, JLL

​Vietnamese have become accustomed to considering their doorsteps and streets as a natural extension of one's own home. With ground floor shops overflowing onto the street and homes widely open to the passerby's view, what will happen to the Vietnamese daily soap opera that is life as the urban landscape changes? 

As residents begin to move from shop house to apartment building, what does this mean for the Urban Evolution of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi?

As an emerging metropolis, we are is undergoing an urban transition. More than just an architectural change, we are experiencing an economic and social movement across the country. The evolution of Vietnam's urban lifestyle and subsequent development need for Urban public spaces.

Street life has typically been the way we assess the "Asian-ness" of a city. In the case of Vietnam, the typical street has been the closest form of an Urban public space. Unlike classical European cities, we don't really have squares, just a few parks, mainly located in the inherited colonial centre. While Vietnam has ambitious infrastructure projects underway such as airports and industrial development – unfortunately very few if any are new open, green public spaces.

As we begin to experience the growing pains of first world problems such as traffic congestion, pollution and over population, the government and city dwellers are beginning to stand up and take a greater interest in the development and enhancement of urban public spaces– but much more is needed if we are to build truly global cities.

Fresh thinking in developing cities

The United Nations is committed to providing public space in the heart of the world's developing cities. Its UN's 2016-2030 Sustainable Development goals includes making cities "provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities." This goal will have a significant impact in Asia, which currently holds 53 percent of the world's urban population, and is home to sixteen of the world's 28 megacities. In Vietnam, we are beginning to see the first stages of this urban solution such as the opening of the first walking street Nguyen Hue in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2015 and the expansion of walking street around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi since September 2016 which is a huge attraction for locals and foreigners alike.

Investing for the future

As urbanization leads to denser cities and higher demand for available land, the pressure is on to create and maintain public spaces. There's no one size fits all solution. The construction and development of sustainable public spaces in urban life remains a challenge for us in Vietnam.

However, some of our biggest neighbors are taking a communal approach to generate solutions by crowdsourcing ideas. Bangkok's city government, for one, has launched the Inclusive Bangkok project, while Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority's runs an annual Ideas for Public Spaces competition and Malaysia has created is an annual arts and culture event known as Urbanscapes,that showcases Kuala Lumpur's public spaces and creative communities.

Creating such spaces, particularly green spaces, are just the start: as a long-term commitment they require regular investment and government support to keep them fit for purpose. The benefits will outweigh the costs so lets hope for our cities and the people who live within them, more is done as our urban landscape evolves.


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About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. A Fortune 500 company with annual fee revenue of $5.2 billion and gross revenue of $6.0 billion, JLL has more than 280 corporate offices, operates in more than 80 countries and has a global workforce of more than 60,000. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 4.0 billion square feet, or 372 million square meters, and completed $138 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2015. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $59.1 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

JLL has over 50 years of experience in Asia Pacific, with 34,000 employees operating in 92 offices in 16 countries across the region. The firm won 15 awards at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific in 2016 and was named number one real estate advisor in Asia at the 2015 Euromoney Real Estate Awards.