A collaboration between LAVA Architects and ASPECT Studios has won an international competition to design the 16 hectare Central Park in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
A key inspiration for the winning design was the site’s colonial-era past as a 19th century railway station. This provided the backdrop for a strong concept, pursuing the opportunity to repurpose a former rail infrastructure and formulate a design that maximised the retention of the existing mature trees and vegetation.

The Design

Interpretation of the site’s history is a key design element. The primary pedestrian and activity network is gently elevated through walkways that follow the curves of the site’s former railway. They delineate a mix of active and passive spaces and allowed it to create a highly connected and permeable park space whilst maximising retention and minimising impact on the site’s existing mature trees. The walkways end with a dramatically twisting steel sculpture that further memorialises the infrastructure history.
Sustainability is integrated throughout the design, where WSUD ensures the entire project acts a sponge, collecting and re-using rainwater. ‘Artificial tree’ forms exist within the landscape, formed and designed to be both iconic and sustainably multi-functional:
· Water purification’ trees collect rainwater to be recycled and used for watering, drinking fountains and fire hydrants.
· ‘Ventilation trees’ provide passive cooling, encourage natural ventilation, reduce heat and create fresh air.
· ‘Solar trees’ harvest energy through photovoltaic cells and are angled to optimise radiation and electricity generation. They power the site’s digital information screens, charging docks and WIFI routers.
A series of flexible park spaces and places provide a balance of both programmed and unprogrammed activities, passive retreat for daily users and relate to the park’s role as a primary civic park. The sunken gardens will provide space for gathering, performance, play and culture; assist in natural ventilation of the underground retail; and provide connectivity to the greater city via the new Ben Thanh Metro Station. A day and night destination, the site incorporates commercial development along with a variety of public uses including:
· Sculpture gardens
· Outdoor art galleries
· Water features
· Music and theatre performance pavilions
· A skate park
· Sport zones
· Playgrounds
· Forests
· Waterfalls
Stephen Buckle, Studio Director (ASPECT Studios):
“We are super excited and honoured to win this prestigious and high-profile competition against the high calibre of other entries and designs. It goes along way to reinforce the reliance and significant of ASPECT Studios’ principles – the creation of authentic, meaningful public spaces that balances both the of humanistic and environmental needs of project. As our first entry into the Vietnam market, we plan to develop on the message this project represents and continue to support the dynamic, yet sensitive growth of Vietnam.
 All Image credits LAVA