Ben Thanh Market and Ho Chi Minh City are the focus of a project by RMIT University and the Master of Urban Design program


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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The vibrancy and liveliness of Ben Thanh Market and its surrounding streets are at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. This urban symbol of the city was the focus of a project being undertaken by Melbourne RMIT University students as part of the Master of Urban Design program.

Program Director Gretchen Wilkins recently travelled with the group of ten students to Vietnam for a two-week workshop based at RMIT Vietnam’s Pham Ngoc Thach campus. In collaboration with Hoanh Tran and Archie Pizzini from local architectural design office HTA+pizzini, the students gained an understanding of the underlying systems embedded in the rapidly developing urban life of Ho Chi Minh City and then identified and analysed architectural and urban design intervention proposals. Mr Pizzini, Principal of HTA+pizzini said the intense use of public space in and around the Ben Thanh Market area incorporated micro-businesses plus improvised individual solutions to meet daily needs. “It has generated a very specific urban fabric which is in contrast to the globalised model coming into the city as a result of new development,” Mr Pizzini said.

As part of the workshop, Mr Pizzini and Mr Tran worked with Ms Wilkins and associate lecturer John Doyle to guide the students through design decisions as well as providing insights into daily life across the city. Student Raph Freedman felt the workshop was an incredible opportunity to study a city and culture in such a contrast to Melbourne.

Before the group returned to Melbourne, the students reviewed their findings with local architectural and design practitioners. They will continue to develop their proposals in Melbourne, and exhibit the final projects at the annual Architecture and Urban Design student show at the end of the year.