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[Photos] 'Da Nang: COASTAL City' – The Soul of the City

Saigoneer is proud to be the media sponsor of Da Nang: COASTAL City, a large-format photo book exploring the urban development, landscapes and people of central Vietnam. Produced with the support of the Goethe Institute as well as funding from Audi, the publication is split into five chapters, each covering a major theme related to Central Vietnam's urban development. This week marks our final excerpt of the book, “The Soul of the City”. Click here for chapters one, two, three and four.

What is the soul of Da Nang? This is not an easy question to answer, mainly because the urban identity of the city is currently in a dynamic phase of development, building up its urban landscape and invigorating the lifestyles of its urban citizens. For example, the Da Nang Administrative Center and Dragon Bridge are two local landmarks with iconic architecture which have recently enriched the city’s urban identity.

However the most important urban development project of the past two decades has undoubtedly been the spatial expansion towards the sea. This has transformed Da Nang into a coastal city. Previously, it was a settlement next to the coast, but the sea was mostly used by fishermen and there were few functional linkages to the core city.

Now, many urban citizens go to the beach on daily basis during the early morning hours to do various sports activities. Tourists spend relaxing afternoons and evenings underneath the parasols at the beach or on the rooftops of Da Nang's proliferating beach hotels, sipping expensive cocktails. Some of the best seafood restaurants in the whole of Southeast Asia can be found along Da Nang’s palm tree-lined beach boulevard. The city branding is now actively using the sea and the beach in national- and international-level marketing campaigns. There is no reason not to recognize the great progress Da Nang has made within such a short period of time.

In general, Da Nang has tremendous assets in terms of leisure value, not only because of the extensive beach strip and the profusion of five-star hotels but also due to its close vicinity to major cultural destinations such as Hue, the ancient imperial capital, Hoi An's living museum of local culture, the legendary Marble Mountains and My Son, former capital of the Cham empire. Da Nang is the perfect tourism hub.

Everyday life is more relaxed here, and people are said to be friendlier than in the hectic capital city of Hanoi or the megacity of Ho Chi Minh City. There is always a fresh breeze from the sea minimizing the air pollution. Urban citizens of Da Nang call it a green and livable city and anticipate a bright future. I share their optimism but also feel concern about the increase of extreme weather events related to global climate change, which may become a threat for the city. Many of the new urban areas that have recently been erected on the periphery of the city formerly served as natural retention areas. The loss of those spaces and their function may increase the danger of urban flooding in the future. Da Nang has taken a lot of wise decisions in terms of environmental urban management in the past, but there is still potential to do better.

The photo book Da Nang: COASTAL City is available on Amazon as well as at Artbook bookstores in Vietnam for VND900,000. Discount copies (VND700,000) can be ordered directly from Michael Waibel at waibel_michael@yahoo.de.

[Photos courtesy of Da Nang: COASTAL City]


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