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[Photos] Inside Saigon's Gritty 'Vertical Villages'

Is "out with the old, in with the new" the new motto when it comes to Saigon's real estate scene?

Saigon used to be full of old apartment buildings, some were built in the 1950s or 1960s while others could be dated back to French colonial times. Many of these buildings have been inhabited by the same families over generations. People know each other. It is almost like a vertical village with shops, markets, restaurants, etc. However, in recent months, more and more of these structures are being torn down due to either safety reasons or to make way for snazzy new real estate projects.

The photos in this series have been taken between 2008 and 2013; by now, some of the buildings portrayed here have already ceased to exist. These include the Hotel President on Tran Hung Dao Street - a former apartment building reserved for American GI’s during the war, and the Eden Building right at the corner of Dong Khoi and Le Loi streets. The former was a magnificent French apartment block with a specific design seeking to keep the its interior cool even on a hot summer day.

The Eden also bore witness to a significant event of the past: it was once home to the AP office where famous war photographer Nick Ut filed the famous photo of Kim Phuc, the girl in the Napalm attack.

Step inside the mysterious realm of Saigon's heritage buildings through the photos below:

View into the courtyard and hallways of an old apartment building in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2013).

A resident of the building using her laptop in the dark.

Residents walk down the makeshift steel staircase in the apartment building formerly known as “Hotel President” in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2013).

A young couple looking out of their window into the hallway of Saigon’s appartment building known as Hotel President. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2008).

A sofa standing in the hallway of the “President Hotel” an old decaying apprtment block in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2013).

A man doing exercises in the old appartment building formerly known as Hotel President. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2013).

The outside of an old apartment building alongside Saigon's Tran Hung Dau Street, District 5 (2013).

A man standing checking his cellphone in the hallway of an old Saigon apartment building formerly known as Hotel President (2013).

An artist in his apartment in Saigon’s Eden building. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2010).

Christian Berg is a documentary photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can find more of his work on his Instagram account here.

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