Hanoi, VNM

Hanoi, VNM by Lorenzo Ceva Valla

Text by Christiane Bürklein.
When a photographer travels you can be sure that he won’t miss the occasion to make amazing pictures. This is what happened to Lorenzo Ceva Valla during his trip to Vietnam earlier this year.
Besides his research on urban density focussed on the people living in the growing urban centres in the fast developing country where traffic is already a big issue, he captured also the cities itself and the rapid transformation of their original urban landscape.
So we see his take on Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital on the Red River, Danang on the delta of the river Han in the centre of Vietnam and Saigon/Ho Chih Minh City, with more than 7 Mio. inhabitants the biggest urban agglomeration of Vietnam.
The cities are awakening, the traditional architectural layers marked by the French and Chinese occupation are rapidly making place to new buildings which create an amazing visual impact in the urban texture.
There are the typical soulless highrise constructions dominated by glass and concrete with no relationship to the urban context and of course Lorenzo Ceva Valla uses them to underline the contrast with the modern and somehow vernacular architecture in Vietnam, the famous “tube houses”. What once was the response to the heavy taxes on the frontage of the houses is now the reply to rising plot prizes and status symbol.
Lorenzo Ceva Valla shows us those narrow houses built on a small piece of land with four or five stories, actually a vertical sequence of rooms, one over the other.
A strange mixture of balconies, cupolas and decorations, combined on concrete facades and painted in pastel colours creates simply unique street fronts. We find elaborated shutters and interesting architectural solutions which reflect the identity of the house owners. A strong visual contrast to the anonymous big housing complexes rising in the cities in their marked density with little urban green or dedicated and shared community spaces. Lorenzo Ceva Valla captures the typical and yet still colourful scenography of the Vietnamese cities so we get at least an idea of what living in urban spaces means in this fast changing country.

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