|Visitors view colour pictures of Hà Nội, which were captured by Leson Busy between 1915 and 1921, at the exhibition. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng|
HÀ NỘI — A photo exhibition highlighting the start of a Western-style city in Southeast Asia is being held at an old villa in downtown Hà Nội.
The event is part of the celebrations of the 50th founding anniversary of Việt Nam - France diplomatic relations, the 10th anniversary of the bilateral strategic partnership, and the 12th conference on decentralised cooperation between the two countries.
It is jointly organised by Hoàn Kiếm District People's Committee and Paris Région Expertise in Việt Nam (PRX-Vietnam).
It displays the first 30 colour pictures of Hà Nội, which were captured by Leson Busy between 1915 and 1921. They describe the start of a Western-style city where local traditional characteristics co-existed with foreign factors imported from France.
Aside from the structures that helped change the urban face of Hà Nội, many details in the photographs show the presence of the Western culture in the Old Quarter and local living spaces, reflecting the strong French influence.
According to Vice Chairman of the Hà Nội People’s Committee Dương Đức Tuấn, the city and the Ile-de-France region of France formed the first partnership in the Việt Nam - France decentralised cooperation in 1989.
Over the years, the two have cooperated fruitfully in the fields of sustainable development, urban planning, culture, and heritage conservation, he noted, adding that the villa that hosts the exhibition was the first from the French colonial period to have been restored by Hà Nội with technical support from the Ile-de-France region.
Tuấn said in the future, they will continue working together to collect and showcase evidence of the confluence of the French and Vietnamese cultures in the first half of the 20th century, aiming to show the public the local administration’s determination and French partners’ assistance in heritage conservation and call for the community’s support for the conservation.
Anne-Louise Mesadieu, Commissioner for International Cooperation Ile-de-France, said collaboration in heritage and cultural affairs is always a priority of the two countries’ decentralsed cooperation.
The exhibition is open until April 23 at No 49 Trần Hưng Đạo Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội.
|The exhibition displays the first colour photos of Hà Nội in early 20th century. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng|
In response to concerns about the restoration of the venue for the photo exhibition, the old villa on 49 Trần Hưng Đạo Street, which some people have expressed disagreement with the colour scheme, Emmanuel Cerise, director of PRX-Vietnam, said the process is not completed yet and the current colour is not official one so it is impossible to make an accurate assessment.
He said the use of the current colours is based on two factors - the original mortar covering the wall and a series of photos taken by French photographer Leon Busy in 1915. Even though the colours of the old photos are not clear, they are still able to show similar old villas with alternating layers of yellow and red walls.
The director of PRX-Vietnam also added that in this project, French experts could not find the original drawing of the building as it was privately owned. During the renovation, they have taken into consideration technical issues, original structures and the selection of structures in accordance with conservation principles.
|The exhibition takes place at an old villa at No 49 Trần Hưng Đạo Street. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng|
The villa, situated at 49 Trần Hưng Đạo – 46 Hàng Bài, which used to lay in a state of abandonment for years, is part of a project to preserve villas to promote the values of the cultural, historical, and architectural heritage of Hà Nội’s historical area.
The project began in 2016, within the framework of cooperation between Hà Nội City and the Ile-de-France region, Hoàn Kiếm District and Paris Région Expertise (PRX). The cost of the restoration effort for this villa has been given as VNĐ14 billion (over US$597,000). — VNS