THE PAVILIONS PHUKET EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Out with the old in Vietnam

VIETNAM: They formed the charming backdrop to Graham Greene’s sin-filled Saigon in “The Quiet American”, but the colonial-era buildings of Vietnam’s biggest city are fast disappearing – sparking fears it is losing its unique charm.

constructionculturetourism
By AFP

Sunday 28 May 2017, 10:00AM


They formed the charming backdrop to Graham Greene’s sin-filled city in “The Quiet American” but Saigon’s colonial buildings are fast disappearing, sparking fears the metropolis, now known as Ho Chi Minh, is losing its unique charm. Photo: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP

They formed the charming backdrop to Graham Greene’s sin-filled city in “The Quiet American” but Saigon’s colonial buildings are fast disappearing, sparking fears the metropolis, now known as Ho Chi Minh, is losing its unique charm. Photo: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP

Any visitor to Ho Chi Ming City, as Saigon is now known, cannot help but notice the construction cranes dotting an increasingly crowded skyline.

They are the most visible symbols of one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

But like many locals, office worker Tran Trong Vu is dismayed the city’s gleaming new look is so often at the expense of its colonial-era architecture.

“They have cultural value, so we should preserve them, not replace them with high-rise buildings,” he said in the bustling commercial hub.

Others are concerned the demolition of its famed French architectural gems will render Ho Chi Minh City indistinguishable from other Asian megalopolis.

“In the 1960s and 1970s it was very much French, but now it’s very Americanised, McDonald’s on every corner,” said Hiep Nguyen, born in Ho City Minh City and author of several books on its architectural history.

“A streetscape without a story has no value,” he added.

Much of the demolition is happening in the city’s rapidly-developing downtown core, to keep apace with a mushrooming young population hungry for modernity and to feed the demand for more housing and office space.

But those aren’t the only needs being fed, says Nguyen.

“The key is money, the key is interest groups,” he said from Sydney, where he now lives.

Developers with deep pockets have scooped up swathes of land in the city centre, with privately-owned old villas or historic municipal buildings replaced by sprawling construction zones.

The most recent demolition to spark ire from conservationists is the Ba Son ship yard, an enormous French-built military complex on the banks of the Saigon River.

It is now being developed into a series of highrise towers by Vincom Group, owned by the country’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong, dubbed the ‘Donald Trump of Vietnam’.

City officials have inventoried more than 1,000 buildings constructed by the French when they ruled the country from 1887 to 1954 remain today, including the famed Opera House, Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral, all must-sees on city tours today.

A few of the old haunts on Rue Catinat frequented by Greene remain, but the street is now called Dong Khoi and also features Hermes and Chanel boutiques for the city’s growing number of high-rollers.

There is no comprehensive survey of how many buildings have been demolished.

But in one central district, some 50% of French villas have gone down since 1993, according to Fanny Quertamp, the co-director of the urban development organisation PADDI.

The breakneck pace of destruction has prompted some to leap into action.

Former video game developer and conservation buff Daniel Caune is creating a mobile app called “Heritage Go” for city residents and tourists.

The app, which is still in development, will ask users to hold their phones up to colonial-era buildings, and aims to automatically generating images of the edifice in eras past.

“It’s to make people conscious of their heritage,” said Caune, who helps to run the Heritage Observatory website dedicated to archiving colonial-era buildings in Vietnam.

City officials are now writing a nine-point plan to classify buildings and mark some for protection, but admit such a huge task could take years to be implemented.

“Pressure for economic development is very high,” said Tuan Anh Nguyen, deputy head of the architecture research centre in Ho Chi Minh City’s planning department.

He said many developers who scoop up precious downtown land do not value historic buildings, adding that he would like to see the structures incorporated into development plans, as has happened in Old Montreal, for example.

The destruction in Ho Chi Minh City comes even as developers have built a replica French medieval village in the tourist hub of Danang, drawing foreign and local tourists keen for a slice of history.

The city risks losing the millions of tourists that stop into the city every year to soak in its colonial charm, said architect Ngo Viet Nam Sơn.

He said, “It’s like losing the chicken that gives the golden egg.”

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Police arrest three drug suspects on the same Phuket Town street

All these arrests are meaningless, just top of the ice berg. All just poor phuket street mules. As l...(Read More)


GoAir to launch India’s first direct Phuket flights

...,calling someone being naive is probably because of your own lack of knowledge.Doing a search in ...(Read More)


Final preparations being made to raise ’Phoenix’

Yeah..., this is another example of Thai engineering. The rusty oil drums will hit the surface but t...(Read More)


Illegal booze ads ‘rampant’ in markets, says DDC

All crazy, but notice all the major beer makers also make water. Why? So they can advertise the bran...(Read More)


Phuket police transferred amid extrajudicial killing probe

Bit by bit this drama will unfold. The very first press statement of the police was already strange....(Read More)


Final preparations being made to raise ’Phoenix’

Silly Kurt,"who is responsible" you ask? TiT, nobody is responsible or accountable, and it...(Read More)


Phuket probation officers prepare to use electronic tagging devices

What are the conditions with use of ankle bracelets? House arrest, or allowed to move a few hundred ...(Read More)


Man killed in solo Ducati Monster motorbike accident

If the rider had known how to counter steer correctly, he most probably could have made it around th...(Read More)


Phuket consuls fed glossy update over road safety, accidents and drownings

The present Governor not present. Sure, during his time on the island nothing happened to get things...(Read More)


 

Melbourne Cup 2018