Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), the mega-architecture firm behind some of the tallest buildings in the world, is turning its attention to the horizontal plane: Its latest commission, announced this week, is an ambitious master plan to produce Hanoi’s first green-tech corridor. And, unlike most master plans, this one actually includes clear ideas for slashing the district’s carbon footprint.
The plan redevelops two existing villages, creating a larger mini-city about the size of London’s Hyde Park that’ll include a riverfront park, housing in spades, and a new cultural hub — all designed to incorporate the latest environmental technologies. Per the press release: “The Master Plan expands and reinforces the local traditions and green urban character of Hanoi. The plan also engages and enlivens the strategic green landscape corridor envisioned at the city scale along the adjoining river and applies state-of-the-art technology in carbon emissions reduction, energy needs reduction and smart infrastructure.”
Sound like a load of hooey? Sure. Master plans are notoriously rife with this sort of sunny terminology, most of it so meaningless, it might as well be shorthand for “coal plant.”
That said, SOM knows its way around green design and has proposed specific technologies for minimizing the new corridor’s emissions, among them: canal water cooling, heating and cooling from renewable energy, waste recycling, and rainwater harvesting. What’s more, the firm — for all its fame as an architecture firm — actually has quite a bit of experience planning cities. They’re the designers behind Canary Wharf in London and the redevelopment for the historic Eastern Harbor of Alexandria.
In any case, billing the master plan as green is clever move. Urban expansion is always a tricky dance, pitting the old against the new — especially in a city like Hanoi, which has been subjected to so many different urban visions throughout history. So by selling redevelopment on eco-friendly claims, the city insures itself against potential critics. Even smarter, of course, is actually implementing those changes.
[Images courtesy of SOM]