The Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association awarded its 2019 Bronze Medal for Regional Plans to a project led by James H. Spencer, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.
City and Regional Planning Professor, James H. Spencer and an international team worked in partnership with the Vietnam Institute for Urban and Rural Planning (VIUP) to study the potential for tourism and economic development in the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, and to design a development strategy and urban plan consistent with this potential.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as part of an international collaboration between planners in Vietnam and the United States,” Spencer said. “This project is, in many ways, a recognition of Vietnam’s growth over the past 20 years into a leader in sustainable development as it develops new ways to approach the rapid urbanization and growth that has begun to affect even the most remote regions such as Dong Van. I would like to thank my U.S.-based project team, our Vietnamese partners at the VIUP, and all the local government and community supporters who helped us understand the history, culture and aspirations of the region’s richly diverse population.”
Over the course of two years, Spencer’s international team formulated urban development and design plans for four town centers in the province of Ha Giang in northern Vietnam
In addition to Spencer, the Clemson professors involved in the collaboration were Timothy Green, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and Robert Powell, the George B. Hartzog Jr. Endowed Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. They worked with Mai Nguyen, an Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Luong Thu Thao, a Lecturer and consultant at Hanoi Architectural University.
Their award-winning regional plan emphasized gradual development and prioritized local, culture-based industries that draw upon community-level knowledge and expertise. Because the Dong Van area is home to 17 distinct minority groups, it was deemed essential that tourism not develop so rapidly that it overwhelmed communities or only benefitted outside developers. The team also noted the economic potential of traditional medicines and the mountainous region’s customary architectural and building techniques.