Nguyen Huu Thai,
Member, Vietnamese Architectural Association
On December 1, 2004, Nguyen Huu Thai, a member of the Vietnamese Architectural Association, presented an illustrated talk, "Vietnamese Architecture: Between Globalization and Identity Crisis," co-sponsored by the Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society and the Society of Fellows in the Humanities. The talk was held in the 10th floor conference room of the Society of Fellows, Gladfelter Hall..
Mr. Nguyen Huu Thai discussed three main points:
- Traditional Vietnamese architecture exemplifies harmony with nature. Buildings are on a human scale, typically surrounded by natural beauty, stressing the elements of earth, water, and greenery and the relationship among sky, earth, and human beings.
- Western influences have upset this harmony, introducing contradictions and antagonisms between rich v. poor, developed v. underdeveloped, and urban v. rural. The result is an architecture in disarray, especially in urban areas where new high rise buildings may be described as "alien nails implanted in the traditional city's body." In this way, Vietnamese architecture faces an identity crisis.
- The hope for Vietnamese architecture lies in sustainable architecture with new design criteria: "the modernization of local architecture and the localization of modern architecture," the coming together of the traditional Vietnamese concepts of sky, earth, and human beings with western concepts of society, nature, and human beings.
Nguyen Huu Thai and Dr. Sophie Quinn-Judge, Associate Director of the Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society