“One of Hanoi’s attractions is its old streets, not its high-rise buildings. Without the Old Quarter, foreign visitors would not stay in Hanoi more than one day because they have nothing to see. The Old Quarter makes Hanoi different from other cities,” remarked an Italian diplomat.
At a seminar on how to preserve Hanoi’s Old Quarter on September 10, Cesara Bieller from the Italian Embassy in Hanoi shared that he was very sad whenever he returned to Hanoi and saw old buildings had been ruined. If Hanoians don’t preserve these ancient houses, the city will have to build ancient-style houses in the next 20 years in the suburbs.
Dao Ngoc Nghiem, former director of Hanoi Department of Planning and Architecture, observed that 15 countries were willing to help Hanoi’s Old Quarter, but it seemed that Hanoi authorities and the people had neglected these expressions of goodwill.
After many years, only four out of 200 old houses in Hanoi have been restored with State and foreign assistance, including houses at 38 Hang Dao, 51 Hang Bac, 87 Ma May and 28 Hang Buom. These houses have become attractive destinations.
Many houses in the Old Quarter are disappearing because of repairs by owners. Nguyen Thi Hanh, who lives at 116 Hang Gai street, noted that many well-educated residents have moved to other places or lease their homes for others to do business. The new residents don’t have an awareness of preserving old houses. Some even tore down the old houses to build modern hotels.
Hanoi Old Quarter management board has issued regulations on architecture in case residents want to repair their houses.