tags: 2011, AP, Architecture, Asia, cityscape, colonial architecture, culture, Dong Khoi, Eden, Eden Building, Graham Green, new, old, past, present, Saigon, Urbanism, Vietnam
Few cities change as fast as Saigon does. Leave for a few months and where once was one of your favorite cafes in an old charming colonial building now a new modernist highrise fantasy is looming over downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Of course this is the course (and maybe the curse) of modernity, but here in Saigon it just seems to strike stronger than in other places. Maybe my European roots make me feel sad when I see the old witnesses of history, such as the Eden building being mown down like weeds on a golf course. At least we had our fare share of sins that we now regret. Here in Vietnam the attachment to the past does not seem strong. And why not? Colonial architecture probably only reminds of years of suppression. But will future generation see it the same way? As a visitor here this is probably not my question to answer.
However I had the luck to visit the famous Eden building in Downtown Saigon just a few weeks before it was finally torn down. The chance to witness a historic place that is now gone forever. Not only was it place to the well known cafe Givral, but also did it host the office of the Associated Press during the American Vietnam war. Many pulitzer prices passed this ancient halls before they changed the public perception of this war forever.
Here a few images in reminiscence of one of the underestimated buildings of the younger past:
for further reading there was this story in The Independent a few weeks ago…