Convert historic Hanoi bridge into a museum, architect proposes

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A Vietnamese-French architect has proposed that the historic Long Bien Bridge over the Red River in Hanoi is converted into the world's longest contemporary museum, the VnExpress newswire reported Saturday.


Nguyen Nga presented her project at a meeting on renovating the Long Bien Bridge organized Friday by the Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association.


Under Nga's project, the bridge will be raised another three meters to facilitate ships' moving on the Red River, and its space will be divided to exhibit old steam locomotives, while train compartments will host coffee shops and restaurants.


Part of the bridge will be used to organize cultural events, exhibit products of traditional craft villages and a "walking street," Nga told the meeting.


"The bridge's spans will be covered with glasses. This detail will give it a new look while protecting its structure," she added.


The architect also suggested building several cultural works around the bridge like an "art park" with natural and artificial gardens, and a museum shaped like a lotus on both sides of the river.


Nga said the works will help improve the living environment of Hanoians, and add more green to the capital's urban space.


The whole project would take ten years to complete and will need an initial investment of VND4.86 trillion (US$236.49 million), VnExpress quoted Nga as saying.


According to the newswire, Nga's project was well received by many architects and zoning experts at the conference.


The Long Bien Bridge was built in September, 1889 by French firm Daydé-Pillié and was opened in February, 1902. It was first named Doumer after Paul Doumer, who was then the colonial head of French Indochina part of French colonial empire in Southeast Asia.


With the total length of 2,578 meters and height of over 40 meters, the bridge first hosted one railway line and two lanes for walkers. But later it was opened to motorbikes and bicycles as well.


As its condition worsened over the years, partly due to heavy traffic, the government approved a project to build a new bridge 186 meters apart. The new bridge is expected to become operational in 2017.


The old bridge was originally planned to be repaired and preserved as a road for buses, cars, bicycles and walkers.


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