Modern green architecture goes way beyond simple buildings — more and more, we see entire eco-cities and sustainable villages popping up across the globe. Leading green architects have designed eco-cities for Germany, China, Estonia, even the oceans. Most recently, Hanoi, Vietnam awarded the commission for its own Green Tech City to SOM, Inc. The winning design integrates two existing villages to create a sustainable city for 20,000 people that will reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption while enhancing and greening the local culture and urban heritage.

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The plan for Green Tech City was informed by a comprehensive process that will optimize environmental sustainability. Wind and solar analyses helped determine the best orientation of streets and buildings in order to create comfortable urban micro-climates, ensuring that the city uses its natural conditions to the fullest extent, allowing for maximized comfort and reduced energy costs. Vital parts of the plan include green technologies like canal water cooling, tri-generation plants, waste recycling and rainwater harvesting. Modern building technologies clearly guide the plan, but SOM also used low-tech passive design strategies for eco-friendly architecture that is appropriate for Vietnamese climate and culture.

SOM created a green corridor along the Red River that includes a linear waterfront park and a series of organic, low-rise, pedestrian-friendly residential neighborhoods. A series of high rise commercial development contrasts the lush residential space. A complete urban environment will emerge, including schools, multiple types of housing, medical clinics, sports arenas, and public facilities. A new civic piazza, the Cultural Forum, will be the heart of the city, establishing itself as a community meeting place with an auditorium, TV studio, art gallery, library, and cafés.

Hanoi’s existing waterways, mostly small canals and ponds, were organized into an interconnected network. Not only will the continuous waterfront space provide public green space, but it will help manage flood control by preventing rainwater runoff, filtering greywater, and providing irrigation for the vegetation. Along with the riverfront park, an abundance of other green spaces will be developed — a lake-front district, public gardens, children’s play areas, sports and recreation fields, and a wetland center.

Green Tech City is one of three major urban plans being developed in Vietnam by SOM, and the firm has also engaged in major city planning across much of China.


Creating this green city for Hanoi will reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption while also enhancing and greening the local culture and urban heritage and educating the people of the the area about eco-initiatives.

Images © Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP