Deputy head of the Ha Noi Urban Planning and Development Association Dao Ngoc Nghiem speaks to Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about a suitable architectural symbol for Ha Noi.
Ha Noi has a long history of development with many ups and downs. Thang Long, the former name of Ha Noi, was chosen as Viet Nam’s capital city in the 10th century and remained so until the Nguyen Dynasty in the 18th century.
The Nguyen Kings moved the capital to Hue but Ha Noi was always considered to be a key part of Viet Nam. The French colony even wanted to make Ha Noi the capital of Indochina.
During the American war, the city sustained heavy damage having already lost many cultural and religious constructions built under French rule.
Ha Noi will celebrate its 1,000th anniversary this year, and as one of the most heavily populated capitals in the world, why does it not have an architectural icon?
Ha Noi’s area and population are quite large compared with other capitals. However, it must be mentioned that the Vietnamese people have a tradition of culturally symbolic medium size architecture.
I think that architecture must stand for culture and the common benefit of society, not for any individual or power.
We have been searching for an idea to symbolise Ha Noi but so far, all the suggestions have fallen short of meeting the interrupted development of Ha Noi.
In the future, the city will become an industrial city, so what should we choose to symbolise it?
We are not sure what to choose. We considered the Khue Van Pavillion and Mot Cot Pagoda but they are too small to represent the overall culturally rich architecture of the city.
I think that it is time for leaders and scholars to create a symbol for the city because it is the desire of the public and tourists.
We should build an architectural symbol worthy of our modern and developed city.
When you were the director of the Ha Noi Planning and Architecture Department, was the matter mentioned?
Some ideas were raised but not discussed in detail.
I must add that despite significant difficulties, we have tried to maintain the integrity of the Old Quarter and other important historical sites such as the ancient imperial citadels in Co Loa and Thang Long.
Since 1990, numerous plans have been put forward, some by the Prime Minister and central agencies. But plans are just the start of the real development of the city which must depend on the decisions of the city’s authorities.
The capital must be represented by a structure that symbolises community culture. If history cannot provide us with this, we should build one ourselves. Such a development would also have a positive impact on the local economy.
Other poorer countries have strong symbols representing their capitals, why don’t we?
I have already said that Ha Noi has been through many ups and downs. The wars destroyed much of the city. Under the French rule, many examples of colonial architecture were constructed but at a cost.
We should hold discussions in order to come to a unanimous decision on the most appropriate symbol for the city, be it a building, landscape or an intangible image. However, most other capitals use buildings.
Source: Viet Nam News
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