Friday, April 29, 2011

A Case Study on Small Community in Chi Lang St, Hue City

A Case Study on Small Community in Chi Lang St, Hue City

Nguyen Ngoc Tung*, Hirohide Kobayashi*, Miki Yoshizumi**, and Nguyen Quang Huy***

* Global Environmental Architecture, GSGES
** International Project Unit, GSGES
*** Faculty of Architectural, Hue College of Sciences

1. Introduction

In October 2009, a small project combined of the GSGES (Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies) of Kyoto University, HUA (Hanoi Architectural University) and FACOS (Faculty of Architecture, Hue College of Sciences) was established with the name “Urban Impacts on the Living Environment of the Old Historic Quarters in Vietnam” . The purpose of project is to study the living environment, community relationship, and the change of living space in the old historic quarters of Vietnam. The expected results will be finding a proper way for future development of the living environment. The project conducted field survey in research sites by interviewing inhabitants of 98 households in Hanoi and 69 houses in Hue from April to July in 2009. In addition, a workshop with local residents was held on the 19th of July 2009 in Hue. As the result of the field survey, information about living environment and its negative factors including waste management, air quality, water quality, amount of playgrounds, community space and so on were collected. This paper focuses on type of façade and usage along Chi Lang Street at present and in the past. Preliminary recommendations future context of Chi Lang Street will be provided.

2. Objectives
- Considering present situation along Chi Lang Street.
- Improving quality of the living environment along Chi Lang Street for the future.

3. A Brief History of Chi Lang
Located in the East of Hue Citadel, Gia Hoi quarter was a crowded commercial center of Chinese and Vietnamese people with many cultural relics and architectural works.
Gia Hoi, at present, consists of three wards, which are Phu Cat, Phu Hiep, and Phu Hau. They are as an oasis within the Dong Ba river (Ho Thanh Ha) and the arc line from Dong Ba Market to Bao Vinh ancient Street of Huong River (figure 1). Even though the present name of the street is Chi Lang, all the local people still call it by the old name “Gia Hoi” because it makes people remember the famous ancient Commercial Street in the past .
The original name of this street is Cho Dinh because in 1936 there was a Chinese market named with eight big kiosks named “Duyen Giang Bat Trang.” In between of these eight kiosks there is a road and the commercial activities were happened ebulliently and fishing boats were sense. In 1938, Gia Hoi market was established by Le Van Thao, a high-ranking mandarin during the reign of the king Ming Mang Kinh. The market includes 89 kiosks and two-storey community building. Besides that, 548 houses were built along the street running perpendicularly to Chi Lang St, from Gia Hoi Bridge to Tran Binh Dai . This condition implied that living activities in this area became dense and active.

Figure 1: Gia Hoi area

It can be seen that there was the transition from Thanh Ha commercial port, Bao Vinh Ancient Street, to Gia Hoi Street. It is natural and certain transition for the convenience to activities and exchanges between the Hue administrative center and commercial center. One stone stele located in Phuc Kien Temple showed that there was an emigration of Chinese people from Thanh Ha port to here before 1794 and then they broadened the activities of business ventures.
Now, due to various reasons, Dinh market moved from crossroads between Nguyen Du Street and Chi Lang Street, to the crossroads between Cao Ba Quat Street and Chi Lang Street, and again to its present place near the crossroads of Nguyen Gia Thieu Street and Chi Lang Street.
In 1899, when Dong Gia market (Dong Ba at present) was moved to the present place and Truong Tien bridge and Truong Tien street (Tran Hung Dao at present) were established, the commercial center of Hue moved gradually from Gia Hoi Street to Tran Hung Dao Street as it is at present . Then, Gia Hoi is as the name of ancient quarter that is available within the new urban city. Vestiges of Gia Hoi quarter, even though there are very few, act as a bridge between the past and the present. Furthermore, there is a latent line that still flows on that famous ancient quarter of Hue.

4. Assessment of Present Situation of the Living Environment along Chi Lang St
At present, the residents that live in the area along riverside must be moved to an other place based on an emigrant project approved by Thua Thien Hue People’s Committee. Thus, the living environment of residents along Chi Lang Street has been altered and demolished and remade into various configurations through rapid urbanization (figure 2).

Figure 2: Situation of emigrant area (left picture) and Chi Lang St (right picture)

As mentioned above, 69 households were surveyed through interviews and measurements of the Hue research site. The location of those houses can be divided into 3 groups. The first group includes houses located along Chi Lang Street, while the second group is houses in the rear of the first group houses and borders on the emigrant area. The final group is houses located in the emigrant area (figure 3).
According to the observation, the street layout is quite disordered. The architectural characteristics are due to rapid and spontaneous change. Ancient houses are on the way to being demolished, as is the trend, while many modern houses have been built with new-unsuitable materials. Based on the type of architectural characteristics and number of stories, dwelling houses along Chi Lang St can be classified as shown in table 1 & 2. Table 2 shows that under the rapid development of urbanization, the main type of dwelling along this street has been altered permanently into modern houses, which occupies 68% (figure 4). Meanwhile, ancient houses have been in unpreserved and many remain vacant (figure 5)

Figure 3: Research site and surveyed house group

Table 1: Typical characteristics of façade of housing along Chi Lang St
Traditional wooden house
Ancient house
Permanent house
Temporary house
Public house

Table 2: Classification of housing along Chi Lang St
Types of houses Traditional wooden houses Ancient houses Permanent houses Temporary houses Public houses Total
1-story 10 0 9 5 1 25 (33.3%)
2-story 0 6 33 1 1 41 (54.7%)
3-story 0 0 9 0 0 9 (12%)
Total 10 (13.3%) 6 (8%) 51 (68%) 6 (8%) 2 (2.7%) 75 (100%)

Figure 4: House at 112 Chi Lang in 2005 (left picture) and present (right picture)

Figure 5: Vacant situation of ancient houses at 107 Chi Lang (left picture) and 108 Chi Lang (right picture)

Along the street, 2-story dwellings are popular (54.7%), while mezzanines can be seen in almost 1-story dwellings. This implies there is low level of the land in Gia Hoi area and there is propensity for flooding, which occurs every year. Although the number of traditional houses among one-story houses is 40%, the living environments of these houses in quite bad with the interior being a humid and dark environment, have decayed wooden structures, and are not preserved.
While the width of the roadway of Chi Lang St is about 6m, the width of the pavement is only about 2.4m. However, the pavement is utilized for many purposes such as parking, space for vending stalls, a place to chat, and for various activities of business. There are at least 7 types of contemporary businesses along Chi Lang street such as internet cafes, game shops, private companies, beauty salons, cafés, grocery stores, and camera shops. Normally, the pavement is encroached on by those activities, especially during early morning (from 6am to 8am) and during afternoon (from 4pm to 6pm) (figure 6). According to the survey, internet cafes and café shops always have numerous clients, which is usually more than other shops. This implies that there is a condition of unemployment and unstable jobs. On the other hand, business activities with traditional products are hardly found along the street, while temporary business activities can be seen along the street such as the owner of house at 157 Chi Lang, who sells beef and rice soup every morning.

Figure 6: Pavement extension of business activities

In addition, the lack of open space and green trees, the presence of solid waste, and multitudes of billboards are problems on the street. There are no garbage cans along the street and the space in front of the Hoan My cinema acts as the parking lot for dump trucks, so the area is surrounded with solid waste (figure 7).

Figure 7: solid waste is concentrated in front of the Hoan My cinema

5. Preliminary Recommendations for Chi Lang street
With the assessment of the situation in Chi Lang street as stated above, the preliminary recommendations for Chi Lang in the future are as following.
5.1. Unification of architectural form and rearrangement of billboards and material color
There are various types of architectural forms of housing façades made with various material colors, while at the same time the billboards and technical equipment on the street are designed with different types of shape and size. This condition makes the street disorderly. Therefore, the billboards should be designed as the same level of height and size, while housing facades should be unified into similar warm colors, which represent the characteristics of the ancient street. In addition, the placement technical equipment along the street should be planned out, while a limitation of housing height and specific building code is needed to unify roof slope, height of floors, and design elements on façades.
5.2. Proper utilization of street and pavement
The density of transports vehicles especially motorbikes on this street and the encroachment of pavement by various business activities create a negative factor influencing the living environment here. Thus, a walking street for tourist routes along the street should be created, while big vehicles and motorbikes during rush hours should be prohibited. In addition, possible utilization of traditional commercial activities such as beef and rice soup selling, votive objects, and local traditional foods should be encouraged because those products represent unique characteristics of Vietnam’s local culture and they can attract tourists.

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Published in GSGES Asia Platform: Education and Research Cooperation on Environment and Disaster Management for Human Security in Asia. Annual Report 2009, pp. 90-95.

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