Artists share their thoughts on changing face of Hanoi

Lovers of Hanoi have been called upon to help preserve the city's charming beauty and cultural values with simple daily gestures.

The "How Did Hanoi Change" conference provided a platform for four young Hanoian artists and cultural researchers to express their thoughts about changes in the city's centre over the last century.

The talk has been organised in conjunction with Nha Nam Publishing House's reprint of famous books showcasing the ancient beauty of the capital.

While changes are unavoidable, some people expressed their disappointment with the loss of the city's charm.

Poet Vi Thuy Linh, born and raised in Hanoi, has fond childhood memories of the city's ancient green trees, cyclos, rows of street vendors and old couples exercising by Sword Lake.

Lamenting the loss of trees that were cut down in recent years, she said her nostalgia is tinged with sadness.

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Changing times: An artwork by artist Nguyen The Son. The work represents the transformation of the urban landscapes, in which many French villas have been modified due to the rising demand for living space.

"Hanoi is not as green as it was. Street vendors are also prohibited. And soon the cyclos will also be banned on the streets. Those familiar images that embellish Hanoi have disappeared," she said, noting the changes in the city.

"I hope that, like me, Hanoi inhabitants will preserve ancient, beautiful images of the city in their hearts," she said.

Painter and photographer Nguyen The Son has spent years creating art that honours the beauty of the city while also depicting its rapid changes due to urbanisation. He has taken hundreds of photos of colourful advertising panels and houses that were once privately owned by families, but have since been purchased by businesses.

Cultural researcher Tran Quang Duc said Hanoi has always had its advantages and disadvantages, and he warned against being too nostalgic for the past.

Architect Pho Duc Tung was more optimistic. He said that wherever he went, he still found Hanoi to be the most beautiful.

"I hope that Hanoi remains a place worth living, a place that everyone misses when they are away from it," Tung said.