Hanoi finds ways to preserve Old Quarter

10:42 | 12/12/2016 Culture & Art

(VEN) - Hanoi’s  Old Quarter in Hoan Kiem District, which embraces the heritage treasure of the Thang Long - Hanoi, should be well-preserved, maintained and promoted on a sustainable basis.  

The Old Quarter today

Many participants of the recent seminar “Preservation and promotion of traditional cultures of Hanoi’s Old Quarter - difficulties and solutions” said that the Old Quarter of Hanoi or the 36 Streets is a unique, diverse and lively architectural complex featured by old-styled narrow streets full of antique brick houses. Here is the showcase of annual traditional festivals associated with historical and cultural relics, traditional crafts, bustling trade and production. The Old Quarter seems to nostalgically resist the flow of time while still actively trying to adapt to the dynamic movement of the modern city.

According to Deputy Head of Hanoi’s Old Quarter Management Unit Tran Thi Thuy Lan, in recent years, Hoan Kiem District has been working efficiently to restore, improve, preserve and promote valuable cultural and historical relic sites in the Old Quarter, using both state and private capital. The management unit has strengthened introduction of the Old Quarter’s intangible cultural values, while encouraging citizens to preserve and promote the values. The management unit also called for investment from organizations and individuals to support public work and cultural preservation projects. A highlight of the Old Quarter’s promotion is the expansion of the pedestrian zone around the Hoan Kiem Lake. The zone has become a new tourist offering of Hanoi, which has attracted both domestic and foreign visitors.

However, according to Dr. Luu Minh Tri - Chairman of the Thang Long - Hanoi Cultural Heritage Association (HCHA), traditional festivals in the Old Quarter of Hanoi are no longer as adequate as they were before due to challenges of urbanization, modernization and international integration.

Architect Ngo Doan Duc from the Vietnam Architects Association (VAA) said that there have been many research and pilot projects for preservation and development of the Old Quarter since 1985 when the 36 Streets were named the Old Quarter. However, numerous problems still exist, including the contradiction between actual development needs and conservation requirements of the Old Quarter; the space for both outdoor and indoor cultural activities remains insufficient and narrow; and inadequate, sleazy and temporary infrastructure and problematic traffic (pedestrians and motorized vehicles share the same roads) in the Old Quarter.

Seminar participants agreed that it is important to have a detailed master plan to promote the image of the Old Quarter. The plan should create more spaces for cultural activities, restore and renovate certain streets with long and narrow buildings, known as tube-shaped houses with sloping brown tile roofs. This is a sample project of the Old Quarter, as a way to introduce the unique architecture and attract more visitors to the area. The plan should also include infrastructure development to serve tourists and encourage organizations and individuals to invest in preservation projects of the Old Quarter.

Deputy Chairman of Hanoi Architects Association, Architect Le Van Lan confirmed the importance of the local authority in the preservation progress of the Old Quarter. He also suggested penalties for violators, especially those who trespass the stipulated height of houses in the area. Additionally, big projects should not be allowed for construction in the quarter to avoid traffic jams. Finally, it is necessary to exploit and promote new cultural values of the modern life of Hanoians as well as visitors to the Old Quarter.

With an area of about 82 hectares, including 10 wards of Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is home to 121 historical,

religious and revolutionary relic sites. People living in this quarter still maintain lifestyles, business practices and active

participation in community activities with behaviors, habits and rites featuring Hanoi’s traditional cultures.

Thanh Tam