Hanoi collects ideas for restoring French town

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Vietnamese and French architects will submit to Hanoi authorities a draft management statute to preserve an old French town in the capital, local newspaper Tuoi Tre reported Saturday.


Launched nearly four years ago, the draft-making project also includes surveys on the current condition of the town, which was built towards the end of the 19th century by France during its occupation of Vietnam.


The French established the town between Hoan Kiem Lake and Thien Quang Lake with the hope of reproducing Paris in Hanoi, the news source said.


However, currently except for a few works like the Hanoi Opera House and the Metropole Hotel, other villas have been critically degraded, Tuoi Tre quoted the survey's findings as saying.


In fact, old French-styled houses in the town had their front and inside architecture modified a lot by locals, according to the surveys conducted by Institut des Métiers de la Ville (IMV - the Cooperation Center for Urban Development) in cooperation with Hanoi Department of Planning and Architecture.


IMV was founded in 2001 under an international cooperation agreement between the Hanoi People's Committee and the ÃŽle-de-France region.


According to project officials, more than 400 local villas are now in need of being restored and preserved.


However, they noted that some houses have totally lost their original architecture and are threatening the safety of locals with their heavily-degraded condition, so it's advisable to destroy those.


To preserve the other buildings, municipal authorities need to order people to remove modified parts, they said.


Authorities are advised to allow locals to build at the rear portion of those houses in accordance with certain criteria to guarantee that newly built parts don't affect the houses' basic architecture, the Tuoi Tre reported.


"That's an advisable exchange to restore the frontage of old works," project assistant Truong Quoc Toan was cited by the newspaper as saying.


Still, experts joining the project are concerned that it's hard to preserve the town in accordance with original French designs for a "garden city," which calls for small parks, trees along the streets and gardens around villas.


Toan said that at the current speed of constructing high-rise buildings, it was very difficult to follow their advice about a "garden city."


The draft statute is now being displayed at Gallery No.93 on Dinh Tien Hoang Street with questionnaires in English, French and Vietnamese for the public to fill in.


All ideas are reviewed and added to the draft every day, the news source said, adding that the display will run till Sunday.


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