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Architectural heritage needs protection

Update: December, 17/2012 - 09:24


Downtown HCM City. Architects have called on the city to ban construction of multi-storey buildings in the city's core to protect its architectural flavour. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Nghiep
HCM CITY (VNS)— The HCM City administration should ban construction of bu
multi-storeyed buildings in the city's core area to protect its architectural heritage, architects told a seminar late last week.

It was one of several proposals they made to preserve precious relics that are quickly disappearing.

The city was established in the late 17th century, and has since grown into an attractive city with many cultural features, particularly classic architecture which gives it a timeless quality, they said.

Just like other large Vietnamese cities, HCM City has a mixture of architectural styles from modern to traditional. But many old buildings are being damaged or are deteriorating quickly without adequate attention from the administration or public.

Nguyen Tan Van, chairman of the Viet Nam Architecture Association, said HCM City, with its 300-year history, had a precious architectural heritage that should be made known to the community and preserved and exploited.

The city also had some unique cultural features, thanks to being located amid rivers and canals, he added.

Nguyen Trong Hoa, director of the HCM City Development Research Institute, concurred saying that HCM City had many architectural works of historical and cultural importance and in a range of styles.

But since 1986, when the city began to develop rapidly after embracing the market economy, many old, typical architectural works, including villas, offices, and even streets with nice architecture, were destroyed or altered.

This had been a major challenge to urban planners, he said, urging them to soon adopt effective measures to safeguard the city's architectural heritage.

Pham Phu Cuong, an architect, said of the damaged architectural works, some were torn down to make way for new structures, and others had their surrounding landscapes destroyed.

He cited the example of the core area, where around 100 buildings with 15 to 65 floors had been built since 1991, and 20 other prime pieces of land measuring 50 hectares were awaiting construction of multi-storeyed buildings.

Dr Pham Huu My, director of the Centre for Preservation and Development of Historic and Cultural Values of Relics, said the city had nearly 100 national and city art and architecture works, many of them pagodas, churches, and temples.

Some of them were damaged or decrepit, but not restored, many others had been restored in such a manner that their architecture had completely changed, he lamented.

The city's development strategy did not include a master plan or legal framework to effectively conserve the architectural heritage or historical structures and sites, delegates told the conference.

In such a situation, preserving the architectural heritage was critically important amid the rapid urbanisation, for otherwise the spirit of the city could be lost, they warned.

Ngo Viet Nam Son, an architect, said the administration should compile a comprehensive database about historic structures and important architectural works, and identify the most important architectural sites for conservation.

The historical sites that mark the city's 300 years of development must get priority in conservation and planning schemes, he said.

"Modern architectural works can be built in the core area, but their construction must be carefully considered by professional experts and the public to ensure that they would not affect the historical landscape," he said.

Delegates called on the administration to set up a professional agency responsible for managing architectural relics and supervising preservation and restoration of ancient architectures.

They also stressed the need to create a fund to be used for investigating, evaluating, and listing architectural works that need to be conserved. — VNS

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