Examining waterfront regeneration planning in Da Nang, Vietnam


  • Ngoc Thao Linh Dang Monash University


Waterfront Regeneration, public participation, planning process, public space, place identities, governance




This research seeks to examine the diverse cultures and values of stakeholders—ranging from the private sector, local authorities, community members, and government bodies—involved in the tourism-driven waterfront development in Da Nang city. It evaluates the influence of participation on the planning outcomes for public spaces and how public participation contributes to reimagining place identities within a tourist setting.

Building upon Henri Lefebvre's seminal idea of "the right to the city," which posits that meaningful urban life is realized through the collective access and use of urban spaces (Harvey, 2008; Lefebvre, 1968), this study investigates its relevance to urban development and how it might address issues of inequality, exclusion, and the need for citizens in reclaiming their role in shaping the cities they inhabit. At its core, the right to the city is seen as a powerful tool for challenging urban inequalities, exclusions, and alienation by promoting a more inclusive and participatory approach to urban development. Though the concept has been a rallying point for urban studies and activism with different developed charters across countries (Fernandes, 2006; Sugranyes & Mathivet, 2010; UN-HABITAT, 2010; UNESCO, 2006), little has been examined regarding the complexities in the context of Asian communist states, such as Vietnam.

The relationship between people and the waterfront and the definition of what constitutes an urban waterfront has been extensively discussed in literature over the years (Herzog et al., 2000; Hoyle et al., 1992; Wrenn, 1983). The trend of waterfront redevelopment, from Baltimore's Inner Harbor to London's Canary Wharf, from Darling Harbor in Sydney to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront in Cape Town, from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to Wan Chai in Hong Kong, is a global one, with cities adopting similar approaches to rejuvenation that emphasizes the potential of leisure and tourism as catalysts for change (Craig-Smith & Fagence, 1995; Sue, 2013).

Research has shown that the process of waterfront redevelopment is significantly shaped by factors such as local institutional arrangements, project leadership, planning rationalities, urban typologies, and market conditions (Galland & Hansen, 2012). Additionally, the transformation involves complex power dynamics among stakeholders, which dictate particular styles of waterfront redevelopment (Dodman 2008; Galland and Hansen 2012; Teschner 2018). While public involvement is critical in recognizing various knowledge forms, including local knowledge (Innes & Booher, 2010; Rydin, 2007; Sanoff, 1999), place identity (Amundsen, 2001; Hague & Jenkins, 2004), market and commercial interests often prioritize economic gains, affecting the inclusivity of urban waterfront planning. Thus, despite the global recognition of public participation's importance in planning, its application to waterfront redevelopment processes remains a challenge where the planning culture and the decision-making context determine the level of public involvement in the process (Lane, 2005). North America and Europe show the successes of large-scale and emblematic projects in redeveloping derelict areas of post-industrial cities. However, less attention has been given to the efforts of a more recent generation of cities, particularly in developing Southeast Asia countries, where waterfront redevelopment is taking place.

This study on Da Nang's waterfront, currently at an early stage of tourism development, provides a unique opportunity to examine the influence of Vietnamese planning culture on decision-making among public and private stakeholders in waterfront regeneration. It aims to assess and emphasize the importance of public participation in the planning process, which can shape the outcome of public spaces in relation to redefining place identities.


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