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Architects Lament the Demolition of Saigon's Old Buildings

With limited space in downtown Saigon, it's pretty well-known that the city's heritage buildings are often in danger of being lost to newer, flashier development projects. More than a few historical structures have been earmarked for demolition in recent years, with the Thu Thiem Parish Church among them.

According to Vietnam News, approximately 3,000 valuable old buildings – most of which were built during the French colonial era, though eight traditional Vietnamese houses also remain – are currently at risk of being destroyed. Of those structures, roughly 168 are managed by the government and receive regular funding for repair and maintenance work.

While some of these state-managed buildings, including the People's Court, the central post office, Ben Thanh Market and Notre Dame Cathedral, are well-kept, local authorities are keen to do away with many of the other, less-maintained structures around town.

Beyond those buildings kept by the local government, another 13 villa owners in the city have requested permission to raze their colonial-era houses as a result of the inconveniences surrounding regular upkeep of these structures. In order to perform any maintenance or upgrades on a heritage building in Saigon, owners must receive approval from local authorities first, and delays frequently slow down this process.

To give you an idea of the longevity of these buildings, Vietnam News pointed out that one such villa in Saigon has been home to six generations of a single family, however due to bureaucratic red tape, the structure may soon be destroyed in favor of a newer house.

Local architects and city planners are quick to lament the precarious fate of many of Saigon's old buildings, urging local citizens to care more about the preservation of these historical structures. 

“For the last two decades, a significant number of historic buildings have disappeared,” architect Luong Thu Anh, who works for Saigon's Master Planning and Architecture Department told Vietnam News.

Another city official, Nguyen Tan Tu of the city's Urban Research and Development Center, also called upon local authorities to speed up the necessary procedures for requesting maintenance work on heritage buildings.

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