This research focused on three of Hanoi’s formal public spaces: Lenin Memorial Park, the 34T Plaza and Hòa Bình Park. These places are particularly attractive to youths because:
They are relatively large public spaces by Hanoi standards;
They are adjacent to main streets and so are easily accessible;
They are unfenced and do not charge an entry fee (as opposed to most of the city’s other large parks);
They feature un-programmed, flat surfaces that allow for multiple uses.
LENIN MEMORIAL PARK
Inherited from the colonial era
In the city’s historical and political heart
17 000 m²
While originally created by the French, this park was re-appropriated by Hanoi’s authorities in 1976. That year, a statue of the Soviet figure Vladimir Lenin was installed in its centre.
In principle, recreational activities are forbidden in this park due to its official classification as a “cultural park” (công viên văn hóa) (i.e., parks serving as historical and political symbols).
In practice, this is a locus of youth activities, especially new “street sports” such as hip-hop, skateboarding, inline skating, freestyle soccer etc.
This park is particularly crowded at night. Despite (or perhaps because of) this intense activity, youths keep coming, enhancing its image as a “youthful” place.
HOA BINH PARK
Created to mark the city’s 1000-year anniversary
200 000 m²
Named “Peace” park, this vast public space was inaugurated in 2010 to symbolize Vietnam’s entry into an era of prosperity and peaceful external relations. As with Lenin Memorial Park, this park is considered a cultural park. It is also meant to provide a leisure space to residents living on the city’s northwestern edge.
The park is surrounded by several universities. It is very popular among students (many of whom have come from rural areas) who live nearby. It is appreciated by couples for its quietness and its romantic lake scenery.
Completed in 2006
In a new suburban area
The hard-surface plaza is named after the 34-story tower facing it. It is located in a planned suburb of Hanoi known as Trung Hoa-Nhan Chinh inhabited by a new middle class and a new economy of headquarters, banks and enterprises.
The 34T Plaza is officially categorized as a “multi-purpose space” (không gian đa năng). The space is meant to be used for a variety of activities without the kind of restrictions associated with “cultural parks.”
While the 34T Plaza was primarily built to serve the needs of local residents, it remains open and accessible to other users living outside the neighbourhood.
Users are mostly from the neighbourhood. There are fewer street sports practiced there than in our other two study sites.