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Hà Nội, a Metropolis in the Making

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Sylvie Fanchette

Part One. A city woven from water and villages

A city woven from water and villages

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A deltaic city, Hà Nội shares its aquatic nature with most of the other Southeast Asian capitals and with its neighbour Canton (Guangzhou). In many instances, these cities were erected on sites protected from river flooding (levees or raised construction), as for Phnom Penh, built several metres above the plain, or on alluvial terrace as in the case of Sai Gon (Pierdet, 2012). Since its foundation, Hà Nội has been protected from Red River flooding by high dykes and the rivers that pass through the city, like the Tô Lịch River, have also been the objects of similar protective measures. In contrast, the other major cities in the region, built alongside less dangerous rivers, have not been equipped to such a degree with protection from flooding. Canals were opened up in Bangkok to drain urbanised land and enable communication with the new urban areas; for protection from the Mekong in spate, Phnom Penh was surrounded by dykes on a polder; while Jakarta, founded by the Dutch in the 17th...

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