|Hanoi authorities have recently decided to give Gam Cau and Phung Hung street a makeover by converting more than 100 vaults into galleries, exhibition spaces, handicraft shops and cafe.
The trial opening of the vault, one of 127 sealed stone vaults along the street, is part of a project to utilise the space under the city’s train viaduct.
The 1.2km-long rail viaduct passes through Phung Hung and Gam Cau streets, under which there are a total of 131 vaults. Of these, a number are already open, while the remainder are sealed with cement.
The vaults, built in 1900 and finished in 1902, are 3.5m to 4.5m high and cover about 16sq.m area each.
The viaduct is part of the historic Long Bien bridge, which carries trains from Hanoi to the port city of Hai Phong.
The vaults were initially empty, but over time they became a hub for beggars and drug addicts. In the 1980s, 127 of the 131 vaults were sealed with cement to strengthen the viaduct and keep anti-social elements out of the area.
“We chose vault No 93 as a trial because the vault is the most typical one in the viaduct,” said Dang Dinh Bang, deputy head of the board, “The vault is sealed with stone and cement on both sides while the middle is empty. The most important thing is ensuring safety for the train above and for nearby residential areas.
“The vault, after being broken, will be supported with a steel frame, and fitted with a drainage system,” he said.
After the trial opening, the municipal People’s Committee will open the other 127 vaults. The vaults will then be used for handicraft stalls and other tourism products.
Vault No 93 will be used for traditional cuisine. The site will soon be connected with the pedestrian streets at the weekend as a new destination for tourists.