Introduction State Bank of Vietnam
Starting from Hoan Kiem Lake at the back of Ly Thai To Park; lording State Bank of Vietnam over the junction where Ngo Quyen and Ly Thai To Streets cross, stands the rather pompous former Banque d’lndochine. This late, rather weighty Art Deco edifice, completed in 1930, was designed by George-Andre Trouve, a young architect straight out of the School of Fine Arts in Paris.
Design the State Bank of Vietnam
Looking more like a monument or a mausoleum than a bank with its massive unadorned columns and militant rows of recessed windows, the heavy-lidded circular entry porch under a tiered, flattened cupola, repeats the theme of bulky plain-faced columns. With luck, the guard may let you peek inside at what was the enormous banking hall. Here the young architect excelled himself. As State Bank of Vietnam was out of the question in a hot humid climate to use direct sunlight to provide good lighting for the bank clerks, he cleverly invented a system of opaque domes, light filtering through twenty “lanterns” to provide diffuse overhead lighting.
If 1930s Art Deco is not quite your image of French colonial architecture, bear with me, the next example is in astonishing contrast.
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