Modern architecture strongly developed in South Vietnam from 1945 to 1975, becoming the golden age for Mid-century Modernist Architecture.
After the Second World War and the inertia of the French colonial government during the First Indochina War, South Vietnam could now see the end of colonialism. and began to move towards building a consumer economy to complement the economy that exploited colonial resources. With new industries and a booming informal economy based on the influx of migrants into the city, Saigon suddenly has a huge energy source. This source of energy immediately led to a society that abandoned colonialism in 1954 and built an independent, optimistic, forward-looking culture.
Vietnamese architects have directly surpassed the neoclassical architecture and art deco of French architects to move directly to contemporaryism because of it. demonstrates autonomy as well as aspiration to become a modern country in the industrial era. The new Modernist Independence Palace, occupied in 1966, clearly affirms this energy source and aspirations of an independent nation. The people have embraced modernism but have turned it into something with a Vietnamese mark.
Meanwhile, the rise of a young middle class from the new economy has led to the filling of modern apartment buildings in the inner city. This energy source did not decline during the Second Indochina War as the country continued to build the additional industries needed to sustain the war.
The Indochina wars have caused many rural people to live in crowded urban neighborhoods. During the war years from 1950 to 1975, the city’s population increased from less than one million people to more than four million people. Since the war, rural people continue to move into the city in search of opportunities and jobs. For example, the Phu Nhuan district, between the city center and the airport, was filled with tents before 1975, they occupied small plots of land along the roads, which were not previously planned and established. by newly moved households. That is why the aisles between the major streets do not have a proper pattern. Over time, the fragile slums have been replaced by single-story houses of equal size and size. A few years later, these small houses were replaced with modern two-story structures as families evolved. More recently, modern five-story structures are replacing smaller ones. Continuous innovation like this happens in all neighboring areas, and it is an important driver of economic growth for the city and a fertile field for testing modern architecture. .
The change over time has seen a rapid increase in height and density through continuous innovation in the surrounding areas. Since reunification in 1975, average residential building heights have increased from two or three floors to 4-5 stories in inner-city districts. Residential and commercial high-rise buildings are not built into single towers around inner and suburban districts along major commercial streets, and large residential areas are clustered together. along the Saigon River. The President of the People’s Committee announced that the population of Ho Chi Minh City was 13 million as of 2017.
The energy and identity towards the future of the Vietnamese people today continue to remain unabated. One of the most compelling aspects of this is the growth of the Vietnamese middle class, with all the modern aspirations accompanying it. However, Vietnamese people are not immune to perfectionism or cultural identity. But they stride and bend it to suit their will. Since ancient times when interacting with world traders, Vietnamese people are very open to new ideas, but they have adjusted them to suit the needs and culture of Vietnam. This feature continues to serve Vietnamese well today. Therefore, they have become citizens of the world even while maintaining a unique Vietnamese identity.
The main result of this tremendous energy is the intensity of life and experience. Vietnamese people have a natural talent for design, creating vivid colors, patterns, sounds, smells and tastes in urban environments. Vietnamese urban life consists of some chaotic and chaotic things, but it is a manifestation of high energy levels. At a time when the Vietnamese make the urban environment more orderly and convenient, energy levels are likely to gradually decrease with progress.
For more than 70 years, architects, builders and real estate owners have been experimenting with colors and patterns for the standard facade of a 5-story, 4-meter-wide urban home. The result is a sophisticated development of modern architecture, suitable for the tropical climate of Vietnam in a limited space. This varied experiment highlights the intensity of urban life along the streets.
A major driver of this strong life is because of the high population density. Along with the growth of high-rise residential areas, the average height of shophouses and high occupancy rates have resulted in one of the cities with the highest population densities of any city in the world. gender. Together with the tropical temperatures that encourage outdoor life, this creates an urban environment filled with people contributing their images, sounds, smells and tastes to others. The range of street food, music, karaoke and sales along most streets are stimulating and invigorating. These conditions create favorable conditions for the natural harmony of the Vietnamese people.
Therefore, Vietnamese modern architecture is not the bland, lifeless modernism of International Style buildings seen around the world, including the city center. Ho Chi Minh City. The energy of Vietnam’s middle class, especially in the South, has created this extremely deep life and identity, and Vietnamese pragmatism is the core characteristic of modern architecture. Vietnam. As stated in the book, mid-century Vietnamese modern architecture is human-scale and lively with a high degree of articulation of elements in the building’s form and layout. But there are many paradoxes in Vietnamese culture. Vietnamese traditional architecture is gentle, but elegant. Earth tones are often used for hue. However, the limited nature of Vietnamese architecture still exists with its vitality. Vietnamese architects have succeeded in capturing this complexity in the Vietnamese modernist architecture that reflects the deep Vietnamese identity.
This article focuses on South Vietnam as a hub of modernism. There is still modern architecture in the North of Vietnam, but it is not dominant in the Northern provinces. The indigenous architecture of the northern houses does not follow modernism. A typical village in the North will have a mix of wood and traditional Vietnamese houses as well as modern but neoclassical houses, often multi-storey. The new shophouse in Hanoi have mainly neoclassical style or the Northern people often call it “New French Style”, an eclectic blend of ostentatious classical style or Renaissance.
The first Vietnamese architects graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine in Hanoi in 1931. Some students graduated in the North, others returned to the South. As a result, they were exposed to modern architecture at the school, often interpreted and executed in an art deco style (Art Deco). In 1943 during the Japanese occupation, the school of architecture moved to the southern mountainous town of Da Lat and then moved back to Saigon in 1950.
Northern architects strongly designed villas in art deco style from 1933 to 1944. The first independent architecture company was established by Vietnamese architects. was the company of Nguyen Cao Luyen and Hoang Nhu Tiep in Hanoi in 1933, later that of Nguyen Gia Duc. Their work is decorative art or modernism from the very beginning. After the President Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam in 1945 and the result was the First Indochina War with France, the resistance had come to war, and the architecture North Vietnamese monks have turned to serving the country with designs for military as well as community facilities in the resistance zone. These conditions persisted through the Second Indochina War with the United States and the South Vietnamese government, and then during the reconstruction period. Therefore, the Northern provinces took a long time to develop a modern architecture suitable for the Northern climate, the available materials and the sensitivity of the people in the North.
Several generations of Northern architects were trained in the states of the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1990. Combined with economic and technical support from Communist bloc countries, especially Russia , during the 1960s and 1970s, a number of important buildings were built to exhibit modified Modernist Russian Constructivist with Vietnamese character. In the 1980s and 1990s, Vietnamese architects designed a number of large modernist buildings similar to modern Vietnamese architecture in the South, but somewhat heavier. . This is probably a reflection of the influence of the four seasons Northern climate. However, in general, Northern Vietnamese architecture tends to be more utilitarian, eclectic or traditional.
Translator: Nam Vu