Youth Perspectives (Honours Thesis)

Youth Perspectives

Navigating and Negotiating Top-Down Urban Change in Hanoi, Vietnam

In the summer of 2017, I spent six weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam conducting fieldwork for my honours thesis.

this page focuses on my research itself and the findings I made. To explore the urban environment of Hanoi as I perceived it, there is a photo page on Hanoi that can be accessed by clicking the button below.

The aim of my thesis was to investigate how young adults (18-32) in Hanoi, Vietnam, perceive, interact with, and negotiate the changing urban landscape they are set to inherit.

Research Questions

1. How and why do youth use or avoid different spaces within the city? To answer this question, I examine the spaces that youth frequent and the reasons underpinning these choices.

2. How do youth perceive recent and current urban change in Hanoi’s built environment? To approach this question, I interrogate youth perceptions of foreign influence in the urban environment, sources of capital, and ongoing projects, such as a planned metro line and a proposed motorbike ban.

3. How do youth negotiate the current and future built environment of Hanoi? My final research question is informed by an analysis of the overlaps, or lack thereof, of my first and second research question, taken in tandem with the proposed Master Plan.

Madeleine Hykes Honours Poster 2018.jpg

Honours Thesis Poster


Royal City 01, Hanoi

Royal City 02, Hanoi

Royal City 03, Hanoi


During my time in hanoi, I found myself constantly analyzing and reflecting on the architectural forms of the city. similar to the experiences I had in myanmar when witnessing the impact of rapid urban change, i was constantly impressed by the intermingling of old and new housing, of how residents renovated their traditional houses, and of the intensity with which development was occurring.

it is important to understand the context in which hanoi is changing. urban (re)development is being guided by the state’s master plan and funded by a consortium of domestic and international private actors.

while residents have the right to alter, rent, and sell their houses (among other things), the government still owns the rights to these lands. further, urban changes are being carried out with little to no public consultation. This means, for example, that historic trees can be felled without prior notice.

or, in the case of the 2008 boundary expansion that tripled hanoi’s geographic size and doubled its population, that massive amounts of land can be sold without transparency to developers.


New Housing around Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Building Intersections, Hanoi


Youth Cycling Competition at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Sundays at the Walking Streets, Hanoi

The Arrival of Grab Drivers, Hanoi


with the opening of the economy linking back to the Đổi Mới reforms of 1986 and the subsequent influx of foreign capital, municipal authorities in hanoi today are working to engender a more green and clean city. yet, the initiatives linked to this new urban development ethos come at the disadvantaging of certain groups, such as street vendors.

hanoi’s current development model is being guided and informed by urbanization elsewhere in the global south, particularly singapore.

turning to urban models deployed in a similar one-party system vying for a global competitive status and international recognition begs the question of who benefits truly from these changes and who is being ‘left behind’?

it is this type of social justice question that guides not just my own research, but critical and feminist geography.

Link to my Honour’s Thesis

Link to my Honour’s Thesis


Peri-Urban Construction 01, Hanoi

Peri-Urban Construction 02, Hanoi

Peri-Urban Construction 03, Hanoi