Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Thượng Thơ Palace in HCM City, built in the mid-19th century as the seat of administration by the French colonialists, needs to be preserved, a seminar heard on Friday.
The city plans to knock down the 150-year-old structure on Lý Tự Trọng Street in District 1 to make way for expanding the People’s Committee office.
“Thượng Thơ Palace, built in 1860, symbolises the conquer of the Sài Gòn region,” Người Lao Động (Labourers) newspaper quoted historian Trần Hữu Phước Tiến as saying.
From 1864 to 1888, soon after it was built, the palace was the place from where the whole of Cochinchina and Sài Gòn – Chợ Lớn were governed, he said.
“For three centuries, the palace has served as an administrative headquarters from the central to local levels. In HCM City there are few buildings with the same function as the palace.
“The palace deserves to be declared a historic relic.”
Võ Kim Cương, former deputy chief architect of the city, said the palace has great architectural significance.
“It now belongs to the Government and so is very easy to preserve its historic value.”
Fourteen other scientists and experts agreed about the need to conserve the building.
“There is no reason to demolish the historically valuable construction,” architect Cao Thành Nghiệp said.
“The most important thing now is we should consider how to preserve and enhance its value.”
Nguyễn Trọng Hòa said: “The building should be listed among national conservation works.”
Built to serve as Cochinchina’s Home Office, Thượng Thơ Palace at 59-61 Lý Tự Trọng Street today houses the city Department of Information and Communication and the Department of Industry and Trade.
A research group from the HCM City Architecture University told the seminar to not expand the People’s Committee building and instead build four basements, one for parking and three for offices. That way the palace can be saved, it said.
“The city should not have all 1,800 staff working at the People’s Committee office because it will cause huge pressure on transport alter the appearance of the [area] and existing relics.”
Architect Lê Quan Ninh said the city needs a digitised management centre rather than expansion of the People’s Committee.
“Why we have to move more people into the downtown area?” — VNS