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The exhibition is co-organized by Hanoi Ad Hoc in cooperation with Hanoi Architectural University, Hanoi University of Civil Engineering, and Gia Lam Train Factory under the framework of Hanoi Festival of Creative Design 2023. The exhibition intertwines exploring the history of industrial heritage in Hanoi as well as exploring the creative spirit to design innovative spaces to create cultural values.

TIME   17/11/2023 - 26/11/2023

LOCATION   Gia Lam Train Factory

DESIGN   Architect Mai Hung Trung

CONTENT   Hanoi Ad Hoc | Hanoi Architectural University | Hanoi University of Civil Engineering |

Gia Lam Train Factory



In the context of this exhibition, where the central theme revolves around the concept of provocation and experimentation in repurposing the factory, we find ourselves immersed in a larger narrative of transitory urbanism. Drawing inspiration from Schiffer's 'Behavioural Archaeology,' this exhibition delves into an engaging dialogue that resonates with Rossi's idea that "the city, like the collective memory of its people, is intertwined with objects and places." This perspective takes concrete form in the recreation of an archaeological site, placing a special emphasis on the exploration of its history during the early 20th century. Positioned strategically at the junction of four prominent rail lines, during its lifespan, the factory stood as a witness to Vietnamese history, from the French colonial period, Japanese occupation, and American bombing to the present day of the free market and social changes. Not only did the factory serve the movement of goods, with an extended network of agents, but it also cultivated the mobility of cultures and ideologies that shaped Vietnamese cultural identity. Through an immersion in the existing tapestry of the Gia Lam Train Factory, the exhibition aspires to preserve its profound spiritual resonance, effectively elevating it to a memorial status. Within this framework, the abandoned factory undergoes a metamorphic process, wherein it is systematically reconstructed and documented as a repository of not just materials, but also the memories and untold stories of its past. This narrative-rich approach mirrors Schiffer's 'Behavioural Archaeology,' where the behaviour and interactions of people with objects and places are central to understanding their historical significance. The factory, in its reconstruction, captures the essence of these interactions, preserving the stories and experiences of those who once breathed life into its walls. This concept of space essentially serves as a manifesto against prevailing contemporary construction practices that prioritize speed and mass production per capita volume over the preservation of the city’s rich industrial legacy. Within the exhibition's realm, the space functions as a platform for broader engagement, extending well beyond the immediate site. It invites and encourages a critical examination of construction methods, retrofitting processes, and the future potential of the site through collaborative efforts involving students and the local community. This holistic approach mirrors Schiffer's belief in the power of examining behavioural patterns and community involvement to unlock the secrets of our cultural heritage. The grid layout draws inspiration from two distinct sources. Firstly, it evokes the urban planning of Ildefons Cerdà for Barcelona's Eixample district in the 19th century. Cerdà's design, a response to urbanization and overcrowding, aimed at creating a structured grid of streets and city blocks, fostering equitable access and optimising urban circulation. Similarly, this grid design was employed at the Gia Lam Train Factory's exhibition building to pay homage to principles of equality, efficiency, and systematic organisation pivotal to Vietnam's industrialization journey that began in the mid-20th century. Although, despite the absence of cars in Cerda’s time, he envisioned a transportation system involving small steam-powered machines that could be conveniently accessed by each resident, allowing them to stop in front of their houses. This foresight in transportation design continues to benefit the Eixample district, making traffic circulation infinitely easier even today. This historical perspective emphasises the enduring relevance of efficient circulation, connecting Cerdà's vision with the contemporary grid layout at Gia Lam, uniting the past and the present through thoughtful and practical design. Secondly, the exhibition space's grid layout takes inspiration from the warehouse's intricate ceiling structure, reminiscent of its mid-20th-century construction. Sunlight filters through the ceiling panels, casting a warm and ghost like glow on the showcased artifacts and stories, creating a thematic and visual link to the factory's history. In this way, the grid layout signifies the factory's dedication to efficiency and progress while embracing and we witness its preserved structure as you walk through the space.


Hanoi Festival of Creative Design 2023 is jointly organized by the municipal People’s Committee, the Architecture Magazine under the Vietnam Association of Architects, and the municipal Department of Culture and Sports with the support of UNESCO Office in Hanoi, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), international organisations, businesses, creators and artists.

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