A closer look at Thu Duc City — Saigon’s new creative urban area

creative urban area, Thu Duc City

The new Thu Duc City is meant to serve as a creative urban area, a concept Vietnam has been developing in recent years following a series of policy discussions in the United States.

Creative urban areas are geographic areas which include leading schools and institutions, as well as businesses, startups, and incubators.

These urban areas are often small in scale, with convenient transportation and a network of office spaces, housing, and shopping centers.

Creative cities are meant to facilitate a region’s overall growth by bringing together professionals from several industries and opening the door for multi-sector cooperation. 

These newly designed zones symbolize the interconnectivity of various industries, a case in point being the growing dependence of agriculture on technology and robotics.

The hope is that by separating the urban area into various zones, the city will foster collaboration between seemingly unrelated sectors through collaborative research, dialogue, and interdisciplinary technologies.  

Connecting high-tech, colleges, and financial centers

Countries around the world are quickly increasing their investments in high-tech and science parks, both of which are considered the precursors of 'creative cities.'

The new creative city in Thu Duc is an example of this transformation, stemming from the 700-hectare hi-tech park in District 9 which is regarded as a pillar of growth for both Ho Chi Minh City and the country’s southern region as a whole. 

The expansion is intended to turn the region into Vietnam’s own 'Silicon Valley.' 

The District 9 hi-tech park has so far successfully attracted prestigious projects from a coterie of multinational corporations such as Intel from the U.S., Nidec and Nipro from Japan, Samsung from South Korea, Datalogic from Italy, and Sanofi and Schneider Electric from France, actively contributing to the city’s science and technology development.

Such success has led to labels such as the 'economic driving force' of the city, the region, and even the whole nation.

creative urban area, Thu Duc City

An aerial view of the hi-tech park in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

2017 marked the transformation of the hi-tech park in District 9 from its current stage of development into a science, high-tech urban area – or a technopolis – hosting a wide range of commercial activities, medical and educational services, housing complexes, service industries and business, rental warehouses, entertainment areas, and public spaces in order to attract leading professionals and their families. 

The technopolis will span a total of 22,000 hectares in District 2, District 9, and Thu Duc District.

District 9 is home to the hi-tech park while District 2 houses the Thu Thiem New Urban Area and Thu Duc District plays host to the Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City, which consists of 12 universities and more than 1,500 PhD holders and 70,000 students.

The interconnectivity of the three areas will serve as a creative ecosystem similar to other models found around the world, where connected communities, businesses, science-education-finance institutions, and government agencies inspire innovative businesses and startups in a 'win-win' strategy to increase profits for businesses, institutions, financial companies, and growth for the state and improvement in the quality of life for the residential community.

creative urban area, Thu Duc City

An aerial view of the Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

This particular development model also focuses on keeping the city smart and green, with quality public spaces full of nature in order to create a more creative, healthier community.

These amenities are of great appeal to investors and top talent.

A creative city

Abundant natural resources, a favorable geographical location, and a positive reputation are no longer predictive factors of a nation’s success. 

Instead, the key to growth and prosperity appears to be creativity and the ability for a nation to develop its own resources. 

Following this concept, many cities, instead of concentrating on industries that exploit natural resources and have potentially negative impacts on the environment, have opted for creative and cultural industries.

creative urban area, Thu Duc City

An aerial view of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Their goal is to build an infrastructure for innovative operations, attract a creative workforce, and create novel products. This model theorizes that creativity comes from everyone, not just artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and others doing intellectual work.

A creative city, therefore, does not prioritizes just the creative class, but takes advantage of the creativity from all classes of people in society, thereby creating a distinct and unique identity.

The eastern creative urban area of Ho Chi Minh City is meant to be the 'nucleus' of Ho Chi Minh City’s creativity, developing values ​​that help promote the general economy of the southern metropolis as well as the southern region as a whole.

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