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HCM City develops plan for underground spaces

Ho Chi Minh City authorities are developing a plan for design and construction of underground spaces around metro line stations as part of an effort to renovate its inner districts and develop infrastructure in the next five years.

A rendered image of a 45,000-sq.m underground shopping mall under the Ben Thanh central station of city’s first metro line. Photo courtesy of the Management Authority for Urban Railways

Ly Khanh Tam Thao, head of the city Department of Planning and Architecture’s Technical Infrastructure Management Department, said underground development is an important part of the city’s 2025 master plan adjustments.

“The city wants to create an underground space full of state-of-the-art public facilities to best serve its citizens,” he added.

Development of underground spaces will focus initially on the city’s central area, covering 930ha in districts 1 and 3, Binh Thanh District, and a part of District 4.

Underground areas, especially near metro stations and the Ben Thanh Central Station, will be built and developed into commercial centres over a period of years, even after the metro lines are opened.

The 20km metro line No.1 will extend from Ben Thanh Market in central District 1 to Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9. It is expected to be operational in late 2021. The line runs through districts 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh and Thu Duc, and neighbouring Binh Duong Province. 

Museums and other cultural spaces, as well as other works such as drainage and flood prevention projects, will also be built in underground spaces, according to Thao.

The city has also planned for underground parking spaces, but nothing has been put into use yet.

Delayed underground complex

The Ben Thanh underground trade complex, however, is likely to be delayed because it has not attracted investors, according to the Department of Planning and Investment.

The department said the 6.8 trillion VND (293.49 million USD) construction would not be done together with the first Ben Thanh underground station of first metro line. As a result, the ground would have to be dug twice, possibly affecting the metro’s operation.

Approved in 2016, the underground complex was originally scheduled to be finished at the same time as the first metro line in 2021.

The city has assigned the Management Authority for Urban Railways to draw up a plan to execute the underground complex. It has also organised an international contest to choose the best designs for the complex.

The Ben Thanh Central Station will be the hub of the city’s metro lines, where they will converge. The connections between the underground complex and the metro line will allow residents to enjoy both facilities in the same space.

The underground complex would be built on an area of 45,000 sq.m, starting from the Ben Thanh Central Station to the city’s Opera House. The commercial section would make up 18,000 sq.m, while the remaining space would be reserved for underground hallways and a public square.


Experts have recommended the city seek advice from foreign consultants on ideas for planning, spatial design, and management regulations for the underground complex at the Ben Thanh Central Station.

The Department of Planning and Architecture will organise a forum to discuss the development of the underground space with experts, residents and businesses.

Hoang Tung, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Architecture, said that underground work would need a huge amount of investment and time, affecting water resources and the environment.

The plan must ensure an efficient use of land as well as compatible connections with existing structures on the ground, he said, adding that it must also meet the requirements of underground water, security and defence.

Dr. Vo Kim Cuong, former director of the Department of Planning and Architecture, said the core issue involved in the underground project would be the locations of the construction work, which will depend on factors like geology and water resources.

Geological and hydrological surveys and assessments, therefore, must be carried out first.

Ha Ngoc Truong, vice chairman of the HCM City Road, Bridge and Port Association, a consultant for the city’s two metro lines, said most of the stations would be underground on the first metro line.

The scope of the research for underground planning, therefore, should not be limited to the downtown area and Thu Thiem new urban area, but should also be based on metro stations in other districts as well, he said. VNA

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