Peace brought new challenges, and construction stopped for much of the next 20 years — until the building boom of the 1990s. And with the shift in Vietnam’s direction came a change in the built trajectory of the 100 years before.
For most people, the styles associated with Saigon aren’t the ones tourists are directed to. For true Saigonese architecture, you have to look down the city’s alleys, at the unassuming multi-storey rowhouses that tower over both sides of the hem.
In 1920s Hanoi, Ernest Hébrard started fusing local and French architectural traditions into a homegrown style. Tasked with building the archaeology and ethnography museum that would eventually become known as Hanoi’s National Museum of Vietnamese History, its seven-year construction ushered in the age of Indochine Style. Festooned with shaded balconies and insulating double walls, Hébrard’s museum continued the trend of climatic innovation the French had spread through their hot-climate colonies the world over. But this iteration was distinctly Vietnamese.
The story of Saigonese architecture starts with the arrival of the French. In their first southern offensive, colonial forces that had been repelled from Hue targeted the Citadel of Gia Dinh. They captured it in a matter of hours on Feb. 17, 1859 — it was a vulnerable square of Bien Hoa granite, brick and earth — and burned it to the ground less than a month later.
The first national park in the country, Cuc Phuong also has Vietnam’s most advanced animal rescue and conservation centres. Words by Hoa Le. Photos by David Harris
In the jungles of Vietnam lurks an unsolved mystery. The missing link, or just a tall tale? Words by Karen Hewell. Illustration by Vu Ha Kim Vy
In the original myth, the Four Holy Beasts of Vietnam came from the dying body of Pangu — he who was born from the Cosmic Egg that birthed the world. But these symbols have come to represent more than an origin myth. They’re the sun and the moon, the seasons and elements, life itself. Words by Ed Weinberg, illustration by Cristina Nualart