Vietnamese metropolis and its sister cities around the world.

Ray Kuschert, who has lived in Ho Chi Minh City for over ten years, was announced as one of the contest’s five consolation award holders for his idea of building a ‘friendship wall’ in the middle of the city with which visitors can interact.

“What we’re looking at here is a very interactive monument, something that people could come and personally interact with. So whether it’s a square wall or a more rhombus-shaped structure, it would be run by an app, and the monument would actually have a lot of mechanics inside,” Kuschert presented in a video he sent to the contest.

The Ho Chi Minh City Friendship Symbol Design Contest was organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in collaboration with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of External Relations, the Ho Chi Minh City Business Association, INSEE Cement Company, and endorsed by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee.

Members of the jury and organizing board are in a discussion on January 5, 2024. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Looking for ideas to build a symbol which presents the friendly and cooperative relationships between Ho Chi Minh City and its sister cities worldwide, the contest called on people to engage in proposing, generating ideas, contributing innovative concepts, and even sketching designs for a symbolic project titled ‘Ho Chi Minh City – A Global City of Friendship.’

The project is also expected to be customizable as the city plans to continue establishing friendships with more cities around the world.

Besides serving as a symbol of friendship, this iconic project is anticipated to serve as a visual centerpiece of the city, while becoming a distinctive attraction within the tourism ecosystem in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City.

The proposed location for this project is Lam Son Park, situated on Le Loi Boulevard, in front of the Municipal Theater in District 1.

A file photo shows Lam Son Park in front of the Municipal Theater in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, August 26, 2020. Photo: Thao Le / Tuoi Tre

The competition was launched in October 2023 and welcomed participants who are Vietnamese citizens, Vietnamese expatriates, foreigners dwelling in Vietnam, or foreigners living in regions that maintain friendly and cooperative ties with Ho Chi Minh City.

Members of the jury (clockwise): president of NgoViet Architects & Planners Ngo Viet Nam Son, deputy editor-in-chief of Tuoi Tre Newspaper Le Xuan Trung, vice-president of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association Siu Quy, and deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of External Relations Pham Tran Thanh Thao.

Over 130 entries

Within two months of launching, the contest had received more than 130 entries, with 39 being chosen for the preliminary round and published in Tuoi Tre publications.

The first prize worth VND50 million (US$2,034) went to the ‘Song Nuoc Giao Hoa, Ket Tinh Huu Nghi’ project by Bui Minh Chau.

The ‘Song Nuoc Giao Hoa, Ket Tinh Huu Nghi’ project by Bui Minh Chau, which won the first prize in the Ho Chi Minh City Friendship Symbol Design Contest

The first and second runner-ups are GẾNT group with the project titled ‘Noi Vong Tay Lon’ and Do Anh Ngoc with ‘Bong Cuc Vang,’ respectively.

An awards ceremony will be held at Tuoi Tre’s head office in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday.

“This creative competition attracts a diverse pool of participants, ranging from architects and students to artists and even foreigners. Consequently, the contest has garnered a wealth of diverse and innovative ideas,” said Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Nam Son, a jury member.

“In particular, some people have come up with ideas for integrating light and information technology, which are what Ho Chi Minh City should work on in the future.”