JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Where is the mosaic flooring from Saigon’s erstwhile Tax Trade Center?

Saturday, October 16, 2021, 13:19 GMT+7
Where is the mosaic flooring from Saigon’s erstwhile Tax Trade Center?
Mosaic tiles on the grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City are seen in a book titled 'Sài Gòn Portrait Of A City 2011-2020' by Alexandre Garel and Tim Doling.

Conservationists and residents concerned with heritages of Saigon, the former name of Ho Chi Minh City, are eagerly awaiting a new home for the iconic mosaic flooring rescued from the Tax Trade Center, a French colonial-era shopping complex demolished five years ago to make way for a skyscraper project.

In 2014, shortly after the high-rise project planned to replace the Tax Trade Center was announced, an assembly of Ho Chi Minh City architects, cultural experts, and local residents gathered 2,500 signatures in support of preserving the 130-year-old building, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.

The group’s lobbying efforts were met with moderate success, as Satra, the developer of the project, announced in 2015 that several sections of the old building would be preserved, including the signage; the canopy along the adjacent sidewalk; the wraparound staircases, banisters, and copper newel caps in the building’s main entrance; and intricate mosaic flooring in the lobby.

Mosaic tiles on the grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Alexandre Garel
Mosaic tiles on the grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Alexandre Garel

Seven years on from the announcement that the Tax Trade Center would be razed, ground still has not been broken on the new 40-story high-rise project, raising questions on the whereabouts of the heritage pieces.

Shedding lights on the issue, Nguyen Thi Ha, archeology lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, offered updates on the mosaic flooring and other relics from the Tax Center during an online conference on October 9.

Ha, who took a significant role in the conservation of the mosaic, said the pieces required a significant amount of maintenance following initial removal in 2016 and are still being preserved and largely intact, though some of the enamel tiles which went missing during prior renovations of the Tax Center still have not been found.

The conservation group has sourced new tiles from a France-based factory to replace the missing tiles, Ha shared.

Mosaic tiles on the grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Alexandre Garel
Mosaic tiles on the grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Alexandre Garel

According to Ha, mosaic art was first introduced to Vietnam during the French colonial era. However, traces of the art form can also be found in traditional artisan practices of locals, as seen in ornamental assemblages on several high-end ceramics pieces produced in the country.

Mosaic patterns can also be found on buildings across Vietnam, from the Tax Center and the Vietnam History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, to the Bach Dinh (White Palace) in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, the Khai Dinh Royal Tomb in Thua Thien-Hue, and the headquarters of Ha Noi Moi Newspaper in Hanoi — the first building in Vietnam to be decorated with multicolored mosaic tiles.

The grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Alexandre Garel
The grand staircase of the Tax Trade Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Alexandre Garel

Other important structures in Hanoi, including the grand Mirror Room in the Hanoi Opera House, the Government Guest House, formerly known as the Tonkin Palace, as well as the State Bank of Vietnam headquarter building in Hai Phong City, are also adorned with vibrant mosaic patterns, Ha said.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Tuoi Tre News

READ MORE

Read more

Photo

Video

This rooster lives a life of leisure in Vietnam

Locals in Phong Hoa Commune, Lai Vung District, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam were shocked recently when they saw a weird white rooster sleeping in a hammock with its legs raised.

Vietnamese man makes a living from raising skinks

Tran Van Trong, a resident of Tan Duong Commune, Lai Vung District, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam has built four cages to raise 1,700 skinks on his 35-square-meter land lot.

Saigon rental bikes in demand following easing of COVID-19 restrictions

Rental bike shops in Ho Chi Minh City have seen a surge in the number of customers since the city eased COVID-19 restrictions in October, with many reporting their bicycles are completely booked.