french colonial saigon

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This one is more of a romantic travel post than a design review. I was in HCMC – Saigon last weekend for work and thought I would share a strong historical influence in her history, quite fashionable today.

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The Opera House (Municipal Theatre) at night and HCMC Museum with a classic Citroen in front.

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Formally called, Gia Định, Saigon is the western version of the name, given for the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina from 1859 to 1945.

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The French asserted their administration over the Sino-Vietnamese people by building massive colonial administration buildings, European villas as residences and planning the colony with wide boulevards a la Paris.

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The Vietnamese people then proclaimed their own independence after the second world war form the combined French and Japanese occupation, in a resistance led by Ho Chi Minh. Saigon was then the Independent Republic of South Vietnam, until losing the American War to North in Vietnam in 1975 and was then officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

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Many of the administrative buildings and European style villas are still around today, showing a lovely patina created by time in a tropical climate.


Love the cool dusty blue in the main building at the Fine Arts Museum.

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The Fine Arts Museum has a subtle Chinese influence to the eves and some iron screen details within.


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More than enough curly wrought iron, louvred shutters, French doors with classic hardware, panelled doors, sweeping stairs and patterned tiles to be undeniably French. It was originally built as a mansion for Mr Hoa, the wealthiest man in Saigon. I don’t know what he did with all that space.

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Two buildings next to each other in Sino – Vietnamese symmetrical precision and palace style layout in grand proportions and French details.

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Love the cool pale green.

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The Gates of the former “Hotel Deville” with typical Vietnamese Bonsai cloud trees.



All photos by Justin Condon

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