|Restoration gone wrong: Hanoians have reacted angrily over the unapproved new coat of paint that has turned their beloved Opera House into a garish yellow reminiscent of the colour for cholera used during colonial times. — VNS Photo Doan Tung
Hanoians have criticised the new glaring coat of yellow paint the city's beloved Opera House has been clad in.
"Flags of the same bright colour were used to warn of cholera during the French colonial time," said architect Hoang Dao Kinh. He was head of the board responsible for the Opera House's first big restoration project between 1994-97.
"The Opera House is a national treasure. We studied the plans and drawings very carefully and we are still here if the current management board needs advice," he said.
Ho Thieu Tri, principal architect of the restoration work, told Viet Nam News in an exclusive interview: "I was very very disappointed. I was simply shocked to see the garish colour."
Currently in HCM City, Tri said by telephone that he was startled to see how a national heritage had been treated.
"I don't know how this happened, but architectural sites and cultural icons in Ha Noi are being treated carelessly," he said.
A Vietnamese architect who trained and worked in France before moving to Ha Noi in the 1990s, Tri said that the restoration work in the nineties was taken very seriously.
The restoration work took three years to complete, and preparation took one year.
"We went to France to get all the original drawings and technical data," Tri said.
We had to justify our solutions at a national seminar."
The Ha Noi Opera House was built in the style of Opera de Paris, better known as Opera Garnier, named after the architect who designed it.
In 2011, the Opera House celebrated its 100th anniversary and everybody in the restoration team was invited to celebrate the occasion.
"It is a repeat of the mistakes made at the Central Post Office in downtown HCM City a few years back. For architectural gemstones like this, you have to treat them with respect."
What is more, the new coat of paint for the Opera House was not approved by relevant authorities.
Truong Minh Tien, deputy chief of the Ha Noi Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said: "We did not license this renovation work."
He added that the Ha Noi Opera House belonged to a list dating back before1954 of protected buildings. Any restoration work on these buildings needed permission from the department as well as the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Viet Nam News tried to contact director of the Opera House Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet, but she was unavailable for comment. — VNS