A group of two female students in Ho Cho Minh City has recently made it to the final round of the 2014 Eureka Awards for their idea of renovating footbridges in the city into green places.
The group including Do Nguyen Phuong Quynh and Ho Thi My Duyen, both fourth year students from Van Lang University, has been named one of the finalists of the awards for their scientific research project “Cải tạo không gian cầu bộ hành ở TP.HCM” (Renovating Footbridge Spaces in Ho Chi Minh City).
The annual awards, which are in their 16th year, aim to encourage and honor local students’ scientific projects.
They are given by the Ho Chi Minh City chapter of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union in collaboration with the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City and the Center of Science and Technology Development.
Quynh said the idea of the project came when the girls realized local residents are indifferent to footbridges due to their boring looks and lack of security.
In reality, these bridges are usually covered with trash. Junkies, thieves, and homeless people often gather there, adding more risk for pedestrians.
From those concerns, Quynh and Duyen spent six months researching a number of footbridges in the city to provide solutions in an effort to renovate these spaces, attracting pedestrians who prefer crossing crowded and dangerous streets to using the bridges.
To make the walkways green places, the group plans to equip them with rainwater catchment systems to water trees on the structures. The renovated bridges will also include benches and waste sorting baskets, as well as newspaper and magazine booths.
An exhibition zone will also be set up on each bridge, displaying paintings by children as well as examples of people who have overcome obstacles in their life no matter how hard they are.
Quynh and Duyen decided to choose the footbridge crossing No Trang Long Street in Binh Thanh District, connecting the two blocks of the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, for specific resolutions, saying the bridge needs to be changed to create a comfortable space for patients and their relatives.
The street is crowded with people and vehicles going to the hospital, while the old footbridge is degraded and full of trash so people are afraid to use it, they said.
To carry out their plan, the two girls visited the bridge many times to measure and collect information.
“Sometimes we stayed there all day long to see how people walk in the area, or to talk to them to know people’s demands,” Duyen said.
“We want the old bridge to become a green and comfortable space so that everybody will love to use it,” Quynh added. “It could be considered a mini park, a place where people could rest and forget about their own or their relative’s sickness, or to meet and exchange with other people.”
Quynh and Duyen also mentioned a solution to raise people’s awareness of using footbridges and to increase the connection between the bridges and their users, in order to change people’s perspective on safe travel as well as the awareness of obeying traffic law.
The project also proposes that competent agencies be flexible in managing and controlling the security of footbridges to erase social issues, ensuring safety for people using those bridges.
The girls also thought about putting advertisements on the bridges’ surfaces and benches so as to make the place more colorful and provide money to pay for expenses like security and watering.