Thursday, November 23 2017

VietNamNews

New life for old tunnel

Update: August, 26/2017 - 09:00
Hà Nội authorities have recently decided to give Gầm Cầu and Phùng Hưng Street a makeover by converting more than 100 vaults into galleries, exhibition spaces, handicraft shops and cafés; something that could be the Viaduc des Arts of Việt Nam. —VNS Photos Đoàn Tùng
Viet Nam News

Old archway tunnels that were built long ago as part of a transport route in Hà Nội had to be closed up many years ago.

People such as drug addicts were using them.

Now, many of the old archway tunnels will be opened up to be used to display art and other things.

It is expected to mean a lot for tourism in the capital city.

by Hồng Vân

Gầm Cầu Street in Hà Nội’s Old Quarter is only 4m wide, yet it is teeming with people, merchants, vehicles and shops offering a wide range of products.

The Hà Nội authority has recently decided to give this neighbourhood a makeover by reconverting more than 100 vaults into galleries, exhibition space, handicrafts shops and cafés; something that could be the Viaduc des Arts of Việt Nam.

The railroad viaduct, which starts from Phùng Hưng-Trần Phú crossroads to the Long Biên Train Station and passes through the Phùng Hưng and Gầm Cầu streets, is 1.2km long, with a slope steepness of zero to six metres, under which there are a total of 131 vaults. Among them, only four vaults are open, and the remaining are sealed with cement.

The vaults, built in 1900 and finished in 1902, are 3.5m to 4.5m high and covers about 16sq.m area each.

The viaduct is part of the historic Long Biên Bridge, which carries the rail connecting Hà Nội with the port city of Hải Phòng.

The bridge, more than 100 years old, spans three centuries and is considered an important and central part of Hà Nội’s development, as well as history. The steel structure was there when the French troops left Hà Nội, and even when the city welcomed the Vietnamese soldiers to take over it in 1954.

In the 1960s, the bridge was an arterial track to transport passengers and commodities, the symbol of Hà Nội’s resistance to relentless US bombing.

In 1971, a severe flood occurred in the Red River region; the areas in Phúc Xá, Phúc Tân and Chương Dương were inundated, compelling residents to evacuate the city’s centre. The vaults under the viaduct, at that time, became a shelter for the people in need.

In the 1970s, diesel locomotives replaced the old steam locomotives, which helped increase the load capacity significantly. In addition to this, the vaults under the viaduct also became a hub for beggars and drug addicts.

Therefore, in the period between 1978 and 1983, up to 127 vaults were sealed with cement to strengthen the viaduct and keep out anti-social elements from the neighbourhood. Only four were kept open to create walkways for citizens.

Until now, locals were using the space in front of the vaults as a parking lot or to display their wares, such as green tea and other comestibles, for sale.

In 2003, two architects Trần Ngọc Hiếu and Lê Hồng Minh won the third prize for their Gầm Cầu Street Awakens project that reconverted the vaults into art spaces, souvenir shops and galleries for an architecture contest that aimed to seek charming corners in Hà Nội. The contest was held by the Việt Nam Urban Planning and Development Association.

The city authority has decided that all the vaults should be reopened, as part of a project to expand the cultural space for the capital’s residents. 

In a meeting with voters of Hoàn Kiếm District in June, chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Nguyễn Đức Chung said that the district’s People’s Committee had invited experts to plan the project. 

Four vaults had been opened to create walkways and the remaining 127 would be converted into public spaces for art and cultural activities, Chung said.

“Reopening the vaults will not only create more cultural spaces for the public and boost the city’s tourism, but also facilitate traffic in the inner city, especially on the narrow Gầm Cầu street, whose surface has been damaged,” Chung said.

“Converting a forgotten structure into a cultural space is an appreciable idea,” said architect Trần Huy Ánh.

“Though the viaduct was originally designed with empty vaults, it has degraded over more than 100 years of operation. What is more, the load capacity of the train has increased over time; therefore, careful examination of the bearing capacity is necessary before implementing the project,” Ánh said.

Architect Lê Việt Sơn agreed with the initiative: “Reopening the vaults has a significant meaning. It is necessary and should be done as soon as possible. Along with the Old Quarter, Red River and the Hà Nội Opera House, the Long Biên Bridge has been an integral part of Hà Nội. The viaduct with vaults is an integral part of the bridge. It is one of the components of the bridge. It is worth noting that the railway also holds memories and reflects the urban life.” 

“It is crucial that we conduct a careful survey, as this structure is more than 100 years old. It is important to have an evaluation board to work out the optimum solution,” Sơn added.

The initiative of converting the vaults into an art space has been nominated for the Bùi Xuân Phái Award. The annual award was launched in 2008 by the Vietnam News Agency’s Thể Thao Văn Hóa (Sports and Culture). It is named after renowned painter Bùi Xuân Phái (1920-1988) in honour of his career and aims to continue spreading his love for Hà Nội. 

The Bùi Xuân Phái Award aims to honour the contributions of individuals and organisations to society, culture and the arts in Hà Nội. VNS

 

GLOSSARY

Gầm Cầu Street in Hà Nội’s Old Quarter is only 4m wide, yet it is teeming with people, merchants, vehicles and shops offering a wide range of products.

If a place is teeming with people, there are many people there and they are moving around but not leaving the place.

The Hà Nội authority has recently decided to give this neighbourhood a makeover by reconverting more than 100 vaults into galleries, exhibition space, handicrafts shops and cafés; something that could be the Viaduc des Arts of Việt Nam.

A makeover happens when a place – or even a person’s face in a salon – is made to look different and better.

To convert vaults into something else means to change them. To reconvert them means to once again change them.

A vault is a type of curved doorway or tunnel, found in old buildings.

Exhibition means display.

The Viaduc des Arts is a cultural area in Paris that is in an old train tunnel.

The railroad viaduct, which starts from Phùng Hưng-Trần Phú crossroads to the Long Biên Train Station and passes through the Phùng Hưng and Gầm Cầu streets, is 1.2km long, with a slope steepness of zero to six metres, under which there are a total of 131 vaults.

A viaduct is a long bridge, usually with arches, that makes it possible for people and heavy vehicles, to cross over a piece of difficult countryside.

The bridge, more than 100 years old, spans three centuries and is considered an important and central part of Hà Nội’s development, as well as history.

If a bridge spans three centuries, it has been there and in use for three centuries, which is three hundred years.

In the 1960s, the bridge was an arterial track to transport passengers and commodities, the symbol of Hà Nội’s resistance to relentless US bombing.

An arterial track is one that takes heavy traffic all the way in or out of a city, in much the same way that your arteries take blood all over your body from your heart.

Commodities are things that are taken out the ground, such as minerals, or grown on farms, such as coffee, which people buy and sell before they are made into things that people would use.

Relentless means never-ending and horrible.

In 1971, a severe flood occurred in the Red River region; the areas in Phúc Xá, Phúc Tân and Chương Dương were inundated, compelling residents to evacuate the city’s centre.

Severe flooding means serious flooding.

Inundated means overpowered.

Compelling means forcing.

In the 1970s, diesel locomotives replaced the old steam locomotives, which helped increase the load capacity significantly.

Locomotives are train engines.

A train engine’s load capacity is to do with the amount of tonnes it can pull.

In addition to this, the vaults under the viaduct also became a hub for beggars and drug addicts.

A hub is a central place people come to and leave from.

Therefore, in the period between 1978 and 1983, up to 127 vaults were sealed with cement to strengthen the viaduct and keep out anti-social elements from the neighbourhood.

Sealed means closed.

Anti-social elements are things – or, in this case, people – that behave in a way that is a nuisance to society.

Until now, locals were using the space in front of the vaults as a parking lot or to display their wares, such as green tea and other comestibles, for sale.

Comestibles are foods.

In 2003, two architects Trần Ngọc Hiếu and Lê Hồng Minh won the third prize for their Gầm Cầu Street Awakens project that reconverted the vaults into art spaces, souvenir shops and galleries for an architecture contest that aimed to seek charming corners in Hà Nội.

Architects are people who design buildings.

Charming means sweet and delightful.

The city authority has decided that all the vaults should be reopened, as part of a project to expand the cultural space for the capital’s residents. 

Reopened means opened again.

Four vaults had been opened to create walkways and the remaining 127 would be converted into public spaces for art and cultural activities, Chung said.

Converted means changed.

“Reopening the vaults will not only create more cultural spaces for the public and boost the city’s tourism, but also facilitate traffic in the inner city, especially on the narrow Gầm Cầu street, whose surface has been damaged,” Chung said.

Boost means improve.

“Converting a forgotten structure into a cultural space is an appreciable idea,” said architect Trần Huy Ánh.

An appreciable idea is one that can be valued.

Along with the Old Quarter, Red River and the Hà Nội Opera House, the Long Biên Bridge has been an integral part of Hà Nội.

Integral means essential.

“It is one of the components of the bridge.

A component is a part.

It is worth noting that the railway also holds memories and reflects the urban life.” 

Reflects means shows.

Urban means to do with a city, or town, rather than the countryside.

“It is important to have an evaluation board to work out the optimum solution,” Sơn added.

Evaluation means testing to see if something meets a certain standard.

The optimum solution means the best answer.

The initiative of converting the vaults into an art space has been nominated for the Bùi Xuân Phái Award.

An initiative is an original idea – one that was not copied from elsewhere.

Nominated means put forward, or recommended.

The annual award was launched in 2008 by the Vietnam News Agency’s Thể Thao Văn Hóa (Sports and Culture).

If something is annual it happens every year.

 It is named after renowned painter Bùi Xuân Phái (1920-1988) in honour of his career and aims to continue spreading his love for Hà Nội. 

Renowned means famous.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A natural disaster that happened in the Red River region forty-six years ago?
  2. Fuel used in the locomotives that replaced steam engines.
  3. Lê Hồng Minh’s profession.
  4. People who ask passers-by for money.
  5. An important facility in Hải Phòng.

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Flood; 2. Diesel; 3. Architect; 4. Beggars; 5. Port.

 

 

 

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