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Youngsters hope to rejuvenate Saigon with innovative makeover designs

Monday, September 22, 2014, 19:31 GMT+7

Submissions by young Vietnamese to a competition launched by a community of the World Economic Forum (WEF) have provided innovative ideas on how to enliven and beautify Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City.

“Saigon Makeover” is a graphic-design competition launched by the Global Shapers Community – a network of hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to contribute to their communities – in Ho Chi Minh City.

Such communities hosted by the WEF, which is a nonprofit foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland, are now present in 320 cities worldwide.

The competition’s application process recently ended with over 150 submissions, and final selections are now being made.

Launched last month, “Saigon Makeover” allows contestants to choose any spot in the city and give it a revamp of their own design.

Many submissions surprised and moved organizers and the jury with their innovativeness and love for the city.

Minh Tam and Kim Ngan’s submission suggested that images or photos of the historical figures which the city’s streets are named after be included on street signs.

“We’d like to remind the Vietnamese youth of our national heroes’ massive contributions and sacrifice, and introduce part of our history to foreigners as well,” the duo shared.

Meanwhile, Pham Duy Thien creatively redesigned Con Rua (Turtle) Lake in District 1, one of the city’s icons, with richly colored ceramics shaped as huge turtles.

His design aims to make a difference for the lake, which has been plagued by murky water and foul smells from people who urinate in there.

Nghiem Minh Quang created a sign with the word “Sorry” at the construction site of the metro line in downtown District 1.

He shared that a simple apology can ease passengers’ discomfort when traveling on road sections slowed by construction sites.

Meanwhile, Ho Thuc Anh expressed her nostalgia by painting a floating market on the dykes of Tau Hu Canal, which spans eight districts in Ho Chi Minh City. The imagined art serves as a reminder of the traditional markets on the canal in the good old days.

According to the organizers, the contest offers young people the opportunity to contribute their fresh outlooks on the cityscape and inspire the public.

“The contestants’ ideas relieve the mounting pressure and stuffiness of an overcrowded city like Ho Chi Minh City. The city has never looked that stunning,” a local remarked.

The designs have been published on the contest’s website, and visitors can vote on the ideas until October 3.

Apart from the design which wins the most likes from the online community on the contest’s Facebook page, at, two other designs which are indicative of community spirit, feasibility and creativity will also win prizes from the jury.

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