Historic villas in Vietnam to be saved after state agrees not to sell them

Hundreds of historic French-style villas built at the height of the colonial period in Vietnam are to be saved after authorities in Hanoi decided not to sell them but preserve them instead.

Concerns about the 600 villas in old Hanoi had spread around the world when the local People’s Council announced earlier this year that is planned to sell them and there were fears they would be bought by developers who would demolish them and re-build on the sites.

Critics argued that they were an irreplaceable part of the city’s heritage.

Architects called for them to be classified into those that ought to be maintained, those that need to be updated and those that will have to be re-built.

Deputy President of Viet Nam Architecture Association Hoang Dao Kinh said French colonial villas were original architecture that brought beauty to areas where they were built.

‘We fear the former French colonial quarter will disappear and with it part of the capital city's special character,’ he said.

Council officials said that at least 260 are expected to be protected. They will not be sold but preserved instead.

The rest of the villas will be classed and either preserved as well.

But some that are in a particularly dilapidated state will face demolition.

A spokesman said that of the 206 villas already identified for preservation, 45 are rented by companies and 105 are state offices.

Four of them have a total area of over 500 square meters and four others have already been noted for their special architectural value.
He added that local people and organisations would work with local authorities in order to help people renovate buildings in poor condition, and make best use of the properties.

This follows concerns that those in private hands have had ugly extension added on and important architectural features destroyed.

According to figures from the city's Department of Natural Resources and Environment there were 2,000 French style villas in the late 1980s  but by 2008 there were only 1,000 left.