Regional architects urged to improve their cooperation

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on Aug. 18 urged architect associations around Asia to foster cooperation around the challenges facing regional urban development in Asian nations.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on Aug. 18 urged architect associations around Asia to foster cooperation around the challenges facing regional urban development in Asian nations.

He made the suggestion at the Architects Regional Council Asia's 16th forum, which opened in the central city of Da Nang on Aug. 18, with the attendance of about 700 architects from 18 countries.

According to Hai, Asia was seeing high urbanisation rates with dynamic economies, and regional cities were contributing up to 80 percent of regional economic growth.

"These cities are becoming centres that motivate socio-economic and cultural development not only in Asia but also in the world," he said.

But, he said, urban development in this century requires countries to deal with global challenges related to economy, culture, population, food, energy and especially natural disasters.

Endy Subijono, a professor at Indonesia 's Principal Architect, said the roles of urban and architecture developers in managing disasters has become extremely important since the country's tsunami disaster in Aceh in 2004.

Noriyuki Okabe from the Japan institute of Archtects said construction with special architecture for coping with natural calamity is vital, mentioning huge damages that Japan suffered from the great earthquake in March this year.

Hai said Asian cities, besides being very vulnerable to impacts of climate change, also saw high pressure from issues such as environmental pollution, increasing immigration and traffic.

He cited a quarter of the population of many Asian cities' had to live in the slums with the shortage of vital living services like healthcare and education.

Richard Hawkin, an architect from the UK 's Norman Foster Co, said Hong Kong 's model of high rise living and working and intergrated road, rail and airport public transportation could be an exemplary solution to the increasing density in Asian cities.

Ngo Viet Nam Son, an architect and a teacher at the University of Washington , pointed out a problem: most important planning literature today concentrates on city issues and case studies in Western countries.

"There is pressing need to study Asian cities in their own terms, from the insider views of Asian people, rather than just from Western views," he said.

"I hope architect associations in Asia will continue to boost effective cooperation to find urban development solutions that can help Asian cities adapt to complicated changes and develop sustainably with bold characters," Hai said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank assessed that Vietnam had the fastest urbanisation rate in Southeast Asia .

The number of citizens in the country reached about 26.3 million last year, accounting for 30.5 percent of its total population. More than 20 years ago, the number was about 11.8 million, representing 19 percent.

Hai said the face and quality of cities in Vietnam had improved in recent years and they were proving to play more important roles in the development of the country.

Domestic cities were also more closely linked together so that socio-economic matters could be better addressed.

"However, like in other developing nations, Vietnam 's cities are facing many problems like booming populations, greater gaps between the rich and the poor, and infrastructure weaknesses," he noted.

Hai said the Government, with a strategic goal of developing a modern urban system with advanced architecture by 2025, stimulated localities to actively study urban management models in other countries.

The Government also urged relevant ministries and sectors to attach special importance to building master plans for green and ecological cities, he said./.

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