Leaders ponder future of construction industry in Ho Chi Minh City

written by Wayne Brown

Returning to Vietnam…

It’s more than 10 years since I last visited the heavily populated Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. Last week I had the opportunity to return and host a Sales workshop. During my absence the construction growth has been significant, capped off in 2018, when the city opened the Vincom Landmark 81, a 461m tall skyscrapper, the second tallest in the world that year, playing runner up to the 528m China Zun building in Beijing.

Vincom Landmark 81 completed in 2018

According to CTBUH, the city now boasts of 16 buildings above 150m with 4 more still under construction. More details later in this blog.

However, as Ho Chi Minh City with a population 8.6 million (registered residents or 13 + million in greater city area) nears mega-city status (10 million required) it seems construction is slowing with the government’s attention turning towards infrastructure projects for road, ports and rail.

View from Landmark 81

According to government reports, Ho Chi Minh City accounted for about 22 percent of the national GDP and 29 percent its financial capital in 2018. This is in spite of the fact that the city accounts for only 0.6 percent of the land area and 10 percent of the country’s population. Multinational and technology companies often choose Ho Chi Minh City when entering Vietnam.

In addition, the city houses the best national universities, research facilities, and the largest international airport in the country. As the most developed city countrywide, Ho Chi Minh City has been serving as the country’s economic focal point.

The government now desperately needs to attract international interest and approximately USD $20 billion funding to support their current major infrastructure plans.

The broader picture of Vietnam…

The unified country Vietnam, boasts a population exceeds 95 million. Aside from the largest city (greater Ho Chi Minh City population of more than 13 which is located in the south of the country), Hanoi as country capital has the second largest city with 7.78 million and is located about 1,760 km north of Ho Chi Minh City.

google maps

Further lagging Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi has only a total of 9 buildings above 150m with 2 still under construction. Of these are two buildings above 300m, making it second in the country’s skyscrapper rankings.

The fifth largest and considerably smaller city is Da Nang – population is 1.23 million. Located in the center of the country and sitting on the coastline with its sandy beaches making it popular tourist destination when visiting this region.

Traditional street vendor in HCMC

And then there was the war…

Only two articles ago we wrote about the small, narrow Korean Peninsula which is divided by North and South. A country divided by war and remaining tensely separated under Communism rule in the north versus a democratic government in the south.

Vietnam’s history is perhaps even more coveted with a violent war torn history. With a long history of unrest dating back to the 1880’s when first colonized by Spain and France. However following the Japanese invasion against the French Indochina at the beginning of World War II, in 1941 Ho Chi Minh and communist colleagues establish the League for the Independence of Vietnam. Known as the Viet Minh, the movement aims to resist French and Japanese occupation of Vietnam.

Statute of Ho Chi Minh in HCMC

By 1945 with Japan’s withdrawal of the country after defeat of WWII, Ho Chi Minh declares an independent North Vietnam. After almost 10 years of aggression France was finally humiliated in defeat by Viet Minh forces at Dien Bien Phu. This defeat solidifies the end of French rule in Indochina.

Following this was one of the darkest times in modern history with the North Vietnam communist group embroiled in war against it’s southern countrymen. With the north supported by communist allies China and the Soviet Union and the south support by the Americans and their allies war ragged for some 20 years – escalating around the middle of 1960 and finally concluding on 30 April 1975, with the fall of Saigon (today called Ho Chi Minh City after the northern Leader).

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam

By the end of the war, more than 58,000 Americans and allies had lost their lives. Vietnam would later release estimates that 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters were killed, up to 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died and more than 2 million civilians were killed on both sides of the war.

For the elevator-escalator diehards…

From the tables below you can see the rapid growth in the past decade and imagine the significant difference since my earlier visit when the city was truly just at the beginning of its transformation.

Global Ranking #61 in the world by no. of 150m+ completed buildings
Regional Ranking #38 in Asia by no. of 150m+ completed buildings
Country Ranking #1 in Vietnam by no. of 150m+ completed buildings
First 150m+ Building Bitexco Financial Tower (2010)
1   Vincom Landmark 81 2018 461 m
2   Bitexco Financial Tower 2010 263 m
3   The One Ho Chi Minh City West Tower 240 m
4   The One Ho Chi Minh City East Tower 218 m
5   Vietcombank Tower 2015 206 m
6   Saigon Centre 2 2017 194 m
7   Vinhomes Central Park Residential Tower 12 2017 185 m
8   Vinhomes Central Park Residential Tower 9 2016 184 m
9   Vinhomes Central Park Residential Tower 13 2017 180 m
10   The Central 2 2016 176 m

And so to conclude…

Due to the recent nature of highrise building development, the estimated size of the elevators-escalator market currently stands around the modest figure of 42,000 with some 4000 new units annually.

Our next journey brings us to Thailand as we take some well earned R&R. But for sure we’ll be taking the opportunity to snap shots of those spectacular architecturally gifted building tops and enclosures which house some of our industries finest products and services.

Until then, stay safe and enjoy your adventure.