Hanoi breathes new life into eroded island landscape

Envisioning a biodiverse habitat for indigenous flora and endangered fauna

Hanoi breathes new life into eroded island landscape

Envisioning a biodiverse habitat for indigenous flora and endangered fauna

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    Propagated Sanctuary in Vietnam

    The design aims to engage the citizens with the forest through varied sensorial experiences. Image: ODDO Architects.

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    Propagated Sanctuary in Vietnam

    The Green Lungs project aims to bring the forest into the city of Hanoi. Unlike public parks and botanical gardens, the project wants to develop a self-sustained ecosystem with the planting of native species of flora. The project acts as a community platform for the people of Hanoi to realize this planned forest.

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    Propagated Sanctuary in Vietnam

    Transforming Hanoi’s historic landmark to a sustainable icon - Green Lungs Hanoi.

ODDO Architects is spearheading an ambitious project to restore part of the subtropical alluvial forests of Hanoi’s Bãi Giữa island, boost air quality and give the battered site a new lease on life. The Global Holcim Awards Bronze winning project for 2021 proposes an immersive green hub would be fitted with a network of pedestrian tracks and recreational activities to place Hanoians in close proximity to nature, a much-needed opportunity to unwind minutes away from the city center.

Last updated: October 09, 2023 Hanoi, Vietnam

By Kruti Choksi Kothari, Ecogradia

Also known as Banana Island, the 312-hectare expanse on the banks of the Red River is covered with wild and thick verdure — including the crops it owes its name tag to — with very few paths. It’s home to an eclectic tribe of farmhands and vagrants with no access to clean water or utilities and is rather infamous for the nudist clan it still attracts.

The volunteered, apolitical and non-profit “Green Lungs Hanoi” initiative aims to convert a 26-hectare parcel at the southern tip of the island into a biodiverse habitat for indigenous flora and endangered fauna over a 15-year period. Since a single hectare of forested area can sequester 460 kg of carbon daily, tropical and subtropical trees are instrumental in tackling global carbon emissions. For that reason, the architects have labeled the development a carbon sink on the fringes of Vietnam’s capital, one of the world’s most polluted cities.

We want to restore part of the island to the condition it used to be in. It’s about renaturation - creating a natural ecosystem with endemic plants that can easily survive and flourish in the island’s alluvial soil. Marek Obtulovic Project Architect

Forests offering a needed ecological and social twist

The massive influx for better economic opportunities has hardest hit the coastal and alluvial forests around Hanoi. Alongside flora and fauna, several bird species have been rapidly declining. With this forest, the locals aim to resuscitate the numbers by providing a haven to native species of plants, trees, animals, and birds. This can bring the natural balance of life back into order.

In turn, it also resolves the pressing issues of seasonal flooding and soil erosion. The income of local farmers had been unstable due to the capriciousness of weather and overused soil conditions. The project aims to engage these local farmers as informal stakeholders in the forest restoration process. It would provide them with much-needed income stability.

The architects worked closely with the local government and community to recruit a team of volunteers of all ages. They plant native trees and oversee long-term maintenance. This propagated sanctuary hence serves as an open-air laboratory for future generations to learn about sustainable development and conservation.

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