Nam Phou Project Approved After Sixth Design

Authorities have finally given the go ahead to plans for the development of Nam Phou in central Vientiane after the design was finalised at a meeting last week.

Vice Mayor of Vientiane Mr Anouphab Tounalom informed the Vientiane Times of the decision after the meeting, saying the authorities have finally agreed to the project design, which is the sixth that the developers have submitted.

Although the authorities have now approved the design of the restaurant to be built in the square, the developer will need to address several issues to avoid adversely affecting the appearance and amenities of the popular public space.

The authorities stipulated that the redevelopment should not encroach too far into the open space surrounding the fountain and the area should be beautified by planting more shrubs and trees.

According to the agreement reached at the meeting, the developer must provide all the necessary rubbish collection facilities, adequate waste water and drainage systems, and take any other environmental issues into account. They will also be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the area, to ensure it remains clean and tidy.

The authorities have also asked the developer, Asia Investment and Service Company, not to install any kind of hedge or shrubs that would create a boundary between the restaurant and the square itself, so that the public still has open access to the fountain.

Nam Phou original project design

They will also be required to install lighting that affords passers-by a view of the lit up fountain, rather than merely accommodating restaurant patrons.

Originally, a two-storey restaurant was planned but the authorities refused to approve this and requested a more modest structure that was in keeping with the size and character of the square.

Mr Anouphab said construction can now go ahead and the project should be finished before the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, which will take place in Vientiane in November.

The Association of Lao Architects and Civil Engineers agreed with the final modifications but said the developer must adhere strictly to the agreement reached at the meeting.

Construction work at Nam Phou began at the start o f December but it took until last Thursday for the Vientiane authorities to finally agree to the controversial project.

The redevelopment of the square will change the face of one of Vientiane’s oldest and most popular public spaces. It will feature a new restaurant which it is hoped that visitors will enjoy.

Since the square was fenced off, members of the public have become very concerned about the nature of the project, as they feared their access to the square would be restricted, and its special ambience diminished.

Vientiane authorities took the decision to grant a concession to a private company to redevelop the square because they wanted to cut down on maintenance costs, which include electricity and water bills and the cleaning and upkeep of the fountain.

The fountain was built by city authorities many years ago, to serve as a focal point of the city and a meeting place for local residents. Centrally located, Nam Phou has been a much loved landmark ever since.

The government has already spent several million kip to restore Nam Phou ahead of the 25th South East Asia Games in 2009.

Since the square was walled off two weeks ago, it has sparked public debate, with many people concerned that this long cherished public space will be lost forever, in the name of commercial development.

J&C was the first one to report about the “secret renovation works” at Nam Phou .. read¬†our original article here

Source: Vientiane Times