Hommel Beer Factory
BIA HOI CULTURE'S ORIGIN: FROM A COLONICAL DRINKING TO A CULTURE OF URBAN DWELLERS
Before the French colonization, Vietnam had a long history of rice alcohol production. The beer industry was created in 1892 by Alfred Hommel, founder of Hommel Brewery (Brasserie Hommel) in Hanoi. Along with the Larue Brewery (Brasserie Larue) in Saigon, the Hommel Brewery was one of the two biggest breweries in Indochina.
Beer was the drink that seemed most suitable in the Indochina climate. At first, beer was mainly consumed by the French, then it became more and more popular with local Vietnamese people.
Besides water, the ingredients used by the Hommel Brewery were malted barley and hops imported from Europe and a proportion of rice (preferably denitrogenated). The difficulty was not in the purchase of ingredients of first quality, but in purifying water used, acquiring expensive brewing equipment, and adapting it to the hot and humid climate of Hanoi. Another challenge for the production of bottled beer was transportation. The brewery came up with the idea of producing a draft beer called bia hoi sold in kegs instead of bottles. Over time, bia hoi became a staple of Vietnamese culture and it remains so to this day.
Name: Brasserie Hommel / Société de la Brasserie Hommel / Société des Brasseries et Glacières de l'Indochine / Hanoi Brewery / Hanoi Brewery Company / Hanoi Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (Habeco)
Location: 183 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ha Noi
Architectural and Urban preliminary assessment
Perspective / Thematic / Narrative point of view
Hanoi Ad Hoc 1.0 //
Architecture, Factories and (Re)Tracing the Modern Dream of Recent Past
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Van Diem Sugar Factory
Hong Ha Stationery Factory
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Van Dien Fertilizer Factory
Hai Chau Confectionery Factory
In 1890, Tony Garnier started working on his revolutionary model for a “cité industrielle”. This ideal industrial city featured four distinct functions: production, housing, health and leisure facilities. Prefiguring the modernist city, the production function held the centre stage in Garnier’s cité.
At the same time, in another part of the planet, Hanoi began to industrialise and to take the appearance of a modern city, partly as a result of French colonial efforts. However, the city was not designed with any of Garnier’s principles. Instead of applying functional zoning principles, living and production functions continued to intermingle in the Vietnamese capital city. The first colonial factories were sited near the heart of Hanoi. Later on, industrial establishments were built further out in a belated effort to reduce air pollution in the inner city. May of these industrial sites remain a part of Hanoi’s urban fabric up to this day, often woven in a “bricolage” way into the city’s indigenous residential fabric. This lack of planning, a distinctive feature of the Hanoian urbanscape, is a testimony of the anti-industrialization policies adopted by the French in Indochina.
Hanoi Ad hoc 1.0 interrogates the forgotten lives of industrial factories in the tropical, post-colonial urban context of Hanoi, Vietnam. As part of the national call to rebuild and modernise the nation by Ho Chi Minh in 1966, these industrial factories played a significant role in bringing material culture and abundance in the life of the average Vietnamese. More than mere production facilities, these factories in their diverse architectural forms have shaped the subjectivity of their workers and influenced the everyday lives of the urban populations surrounding them.
After the war, with the nation opening its door to the infinite sea of free market and neoliberalism, these urban artefacts gradually lost their purpose. Many have since been slated to be replaced by generic real estate projects. By investigating their current urban conditions, recording their architectural forms through drawings, and situating this knowledge in a greater socio-historical context, we aim to unearth these factories’ former selves and subsequently imagine alternate futures for them.
Hanoi Ad Hoc is a collaborative group whose members are based in various cities across Europe, North America, and East Asia. Theoretical research for this project is conducted simultaneously in Paris, London, Berlin, Montreal, and Hanoi while the production, site survey and dissemination activities are unfolding in Hanoi.
December 2020 - December 2022
By targeting a broad audience, the final outcome aims to reach intellectuals, practitioners, stakeholders and decision makers in order to convince people of the importance of industrial heritages and its preservation through multiple lenses. To do things right, we must understand it first. The outcome will be a collection of critical writing pieces, reliable databases and finest architectural drawings, which will serve as a strong foundation for further research and developments
Urban investigation, recording and response
Conducting an anthropological investigation into the current conditions of factories of interest.
Narrating these factories’ conditions and their surroundings using architectural drawings, diagrams, montage and collage.
Developing a position regarding the post-occupant of these factories of interest
Understanding the context of these buildings through analysing its dialectic relationship and material presence within its neighbouring habitants, and project a potential response to these sites.
Urban anthropological drawings
A series of axonometric drawings in large format to illustrate the building of interests as accurately as possible. The series will be accompanied with photographic documentations to serve as a long-term research archive. Each investigated building will be represented by one of these drawings, with the angles determined onsite to show the most prominent features of the building. The drawings will be drawn in Axonometric format, providing the objectivity and rational characteristics of architecture during the early modernist period. The drawings also contain only a single lineweight, flattening out the perception, freezing the building at the moment of record and further emphasising its ‘objectiveness’. For each factory of interest, The drawings situate the building of interest in its urban context, everyday life and the narrative of Vietnamese people. Each drawing repositions from an objective to subjective point of view, gradually allowing the views to empathise and submerge themselves into the life of these so-called ruins.
"Close read" Stories
The gathering information will be processed, analyzed and synthesized. By examining multiple agents from the dossier, we will narrow down our interests into the most significant aspect that set light on the reciprocal relationship between the factories and their contexts. Through a series of "close read", the audience will perceive different narrations with different voices, approaches, and point of view, from societal impacts, political ideologies to the transformation of the urbanscape through industrial urbanities... These puzzles will eventually engender the holistic industrial landscape of the city and reveal how industrialization has fostered urbanization.
Apart from pure gathering information and collecting data, through discussion within the teams, design provocations are developed to establish different positions towards the lives of these factories and sites. Unlike a detailed architectural proposal, this quick design provocation will serve as conceptual/ practical/ critical/ projective platforms for future possibilities and open up a conversation, contributing directly to the architectural knowledge production in Vietnam. This phase can be under the form of an open competition to get involved the community into the creation process.
Ad hoc talks
In cooperation with local institutions, UN agencies, core team members are encouraged to pair up with an external guest and have a dialogue on their theoretical positions for the research taking into consideration the factories’ context and urban conditions. Reading materials can be provided to help reach out to the research’s wider audience.
In addition, specialists’ talks will be held to discuss significant case studies projects in Vietnam, to facilitate knowledge exchange between international and local researchers and to encourage future collaboration.