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Honorary consul suggests partial conservation of iconic trade center

Monday, October 06, 2014, 13:30 GMT+7

The Honorary Consul General of Finland in Ho Chi Minh City, Phung Anh Tuan, has sent a letter to the HCMC People's Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to propose a number of measures to help conserve a portion of the Saigon Tax Trade Center.

The iconic trade center has been shut down, and will be torn down, to make room for a new 40-story building, while a small part of the lot will be set aside for the construction of part of a metro line station.

The content of the letter shows that there are two proposals.

The first, and most ambitious, plan, aims to “completely reserve the lobby lounge, with mosaic tiled floor and the main staircase of the center,” so that the “whole structure will be integrated into the design of the new building”.

Meanwhile, the second proposal aims to map out different solutions to dismantle, remove and retain the main design elements, including mosaic floors, balustrades, handrails and the banisters in the shape of a laurel flower and the "Gaulois" (Gallic Roosters) cockerel found on the main staircase and lobby lounge”.

The Honorary Consul General of Finland in HCMC also said, under the mandate of the French Consulate General in HCMC and many other consular delegations, that it will stand out and arrange all related labor costs to implement the second proposal, if approved.

Later on, the dismantled parts will be "integrated into the museums or embellished in a systematic and professional way rather than be demolished and/or dismantled into pieces without reservation".

The letter suggests that it would take 15-20 days for the job if the second proposal is given the green light.

Tuan told Tuoi Tre News that he is waiting for the confirmation about the support for his proposal from the head of HCMC Consular Corp, the Consulate General of France, and the Consulate General of Germany.

The Cultural Heritage Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also sent a document on the suggestion to HCMC authorities for consideration.

The Saigon Tax Trade Center, first opened in 1924, was renovated several times. However, according to the letter, part of the interior architectural elements of the building, including the lobby lounge, mosaic tiled floor, and the main staircase, were still original items from 1924.

Previously, Mr. Doan Hoai Minh, general director of managing projects developed by Saigon Trading Corp (Satra), the building’s owner, said any architectural elements associated with the history of the old building will be preserved partially in the design of the new building. However, Satra cannot determine which elements will be preserved, as the project is still in the design phase.

On September 29, Minh told Thanh Nien Newspaper that US-based Gensler and Associates International (Gensler) had beat five top global designers to be chosen by Satra to design the new building. It took Satra a year to pick Gensler from a list of 200 contenders worldwide.

Regarding the progress of the building design, Mr. Minh said Gensler has now embarked on the implementation stage. It is expected that Gensler will finish the technical design of the building within three months, and Satra will then submit the design to state agencies for review and approval.

Thoai Tran/Tuoi Tre News

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