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French-era architecture to be saved

Update: December, 21/2015 - 08:11

Centenarian: Founded in 1880, the former Les Grands Magasins Charnier (GMC) was built along with other French-style structures, including Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sai Gon Central Post Office and others during that era. — Photo diendan.org

HCM CITY (VNS) — Architectural features of the more than 100-year-old Sai Gon Tax Trade Centre will be preserved when the centre is torn down to build a metro line and a 40-storey office and hotel complex.

The plan from the Sai Gon Trading Corporation Limited (SATRA) calls for exterior features of the original architecture to be incorporated into the new building.

On top of the building at the corner of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue streets, the dome of the new building will contain similar patterns of the original building, called the Grands Magasins Charner.

According to SATRA, the new building will be modern in aesthetics and function. However, its architecture will blend with more traditional structures, including City Hall, Opera House and the Rex Hotel, located nearby.

Inside the building, on the ground floor, the lobby and the mosaic tiled floor and the major stairway of the original building will be preserved.

Most of the sections will remain in their original positions.

The main preservation task inside the building will be to keep the mosaic tiled floor.

The first task will be inspection of the condition of the mosaic tiles to determine the necessary costs, number of workers, and other relevant issues, according to SATRA's representative.

SATRA has selected international consulting companies to proceed with the project.

The main design task was assigned to an American company with 50 years of experience and 5,000 experts, with offices in 112 countries.

Last year, following opinions from several concerned diplomats and others, the HCM City People's Committee asked the local Department of Planning and Architecture to work with the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism to conduct research and offer suggestions on the preservation of parts of the trading centre.

Founded in 1880, Les Grands Magasins Charnier (GMC) was built along with other French-style structures, including Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sai Gon Central Post Office and others during that era.

In the 1940s, the three-level GMC building with a mix of French and Asian architectural styles added a clock tower of Western style on top and windows of East Asian style.

In the 1960s, GMC was renamed Tax Plaza by the Trade Association. Inside, it was broken up into small areas for hundreds of merchants to rent and run their own businesses.

The Tax Plaza from 1960 to 1970 was considered one of Saigon's busiest shopping centres. It attracted foreigners, especially American shoppers. The merchandise included clothes, handicrafts, cameras, watches and electronic items imported from Japan, the US and Taiwan.

On November 12, 1981, the Tax Plaza was again renamed as the Ho Chi Minh City Department Store, and put under the management of the HCM City Trade Service.

The decade of the 1990s was the store's most prosperous time as it welcomed many foreign shoppers, mainly from Europe. Due to successful trading activities with partners from Russia, the building was informally called the "Russian Market" at that time.

In 2003, the Sai Gon Tax Trade Centre was upgraded, becoming a taller more modern building. — VNS



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