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Hands over Saigon

The hands on the city is the translation of the speculative and predatory thrusts of private and financial capital on the public goods of the community and their plunder such as roads, parks, services and equipment of general interest


"Hands over the city" (Italian: Le mani sulla città) is a 1963 drama film directed by Francesco Rosi. A film of civil commitment, it is a ruthless denunciation of corruption and speculation in Italy in the 1960s, the years of the economic and construction boom, in some ways similar to those that Vietnam is its most dynamic city - Saigon - have been going through the past 20 years.

Speculation in urban planning projects can be defined as the private activity of placing building products in the market other than an overall public urban planning with the mere objective of pursuing "predatory" profits.

Speculation intended not only for the sale and purchase of land and buildings, that is the anticipation and bet on the future value of certain building products or uses, as it refers to the overall building and urban production process of a city ', ie to a true model or paradigm.

This totally neoliberal model, ultra capitalist to say the least, by now a system, has radically and negatively transformed both Hanoi and Saigon, a city in which I was able to directly observe its transformations over the last ten years.

It is under the eyes of everyone and its inhabitants as, in the face of the unchanged infrastructural situation over the last decade - if we want to exclude the first line of subway not yet completed and very few interventions of modernisation of the roads or construction of some roads along its main canals, the construction of towers and residential complexes has increased dramatically, swallowing up the few remaining green areas of the city and pouring further unbearable loads of traffic onto its already suffering streets.

A fragmented city, built for islands in fact - represented by large complexes and residential towers under the Anglo-Saxon gated communities model: private, closed and self-sufficient communities equipped with services and equipment within them, compared to the open urban model of the early twentieth-century French planning that built the fabric of the city and its public spaces as we know it in its central areas and that made up Saigon with the Chinese community of the village of Cholon located to the southwest of the original core fortified citadel.

Saigon 2019

In some ways even the model of self-construction of entire "hem"  districts of Saigon as well as of Hanoi over the last 50 years and on the model of the European medieval city has urban and city characteristics: the narrow alleys are a public space that connects the different communities and where the social life comes to life, between small shops, markets and cafes, despite the obvious problems of hygiene and infrastructure.

The speculative model instead destroys the city or its urbanity by creating divisions and exclusions: divisions between rich and poor, exclusion of the latter from services, parks, urban equipment within them.

Urbanity can also be defined as the social and sociable character of a city, its beauty and sense of democracy that can be felt, the possibility of feeling part of a place because it is public and collective.

The hands on the city is conversely the translation of the speculative and predatory thrusts of private and financial capital on the public goods of the community and their plunder such as roads, parks, services and equipment of general interest. In fact, the absence of public and overall planning of the city and the territory, the only one able to put limits to the speculative process and to direct urban development towards beauty and sustainability goals.

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