HCMC should copy Singapore's urban gardens to ease summer heat

By Thanh Le   April 17, 2024 | 04:00 pm PT
HCMC should copy Singapore's urban gardens to ease summer heat
Workers dining and napping under Ba Son bridge in HCMC to avoid the scorching heat, April 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
I have visited Singapore multiple times. They use different ways to plant more trees along the concrete structures within the city, which helps it cope with the summer heat. Meanwhile HCMC always feels very hot.

These are the thoughts of reader Meonhamnhi about weeks of severe heat wave that have seen temperatures constantly rising beyond 40 degrees Celsius in HCMC.

The reader said: "In Singapore, they plant trees everywhere. You can see their attempts to plant more trees in between concrete structures. Walking into Singaporean buildings, I felt like I was walking into an underground garden. Thanks to their green designs and urban planning, the sultry, exhausting heat of summers feels less agonizing. Plants help to reduce air pollution, dissipate heat, and reduce dust in the air. It is much more efficient than the industrial plastic cover.

In Vietnam, not just HCMC but also the seaside or island areas, such as Phu Quoc Island, I always felt very hot. As a tropical island, Phu Quoc should have a lot of trees. Even if the town builds a new tourism resort, it should somewhat strive towards a more natural style, utilizing traditional materials like rattan, bamboo, and dried leaves. Meanwhile, in reality, in Phu Quoc, we only see concrete structures being painted in different colors. It only makes the weather hotter."

Sharing the sentiment, reader Huynhhoanghonguyen said: "In Singapore, most pavements are sheltered, which lessens the intensity of the summer heat. Usually, people would walk towards public transport vehicles, such as metros or buses, in which people are less exposed to the sun compared to driving on motorbikes like in Vietnam. The thing I like the most is that Singapore has a lot of trees in the city, running along pavements, which help to soothe the eyes and cleanse the air."

Pointing out the issues in HCMC’s urban planning which are gradually worsening the air quality, reader Nguoixala said: "My hometown is HCMC. Every year when I return, I find more concrete houses, more private vehicles, and fewer trees. The air quality just worsened day by day. Last Lunar New Year, I returned to HCMC for two weeks. Most days we travelled outside, and I quickly got a sore throat, to the extent of losing my voice. Immediately after returning to Germany, my body got better. To me, it is a clear indication that the air quality in HCMC is polluted and worsening.

In Germany, the government takes various measures to protect the environment. Besides greenifying the public areas, citizens in Germany have to keep the area surrounding their houses with grass gardens, with brick walkways, instead of concrete yards.

As for my house, if I wish to make my backyards more concrete with cement, I would have to pay additional environmental taxes based on the size of the area. Or if I want to chop down a tree in the garden, I would have to ask for permission from the local authorities. Therefore, the air quality where I live, about 20 kilometres from Berlin, is always nice, clean and breeze."

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