For visitors, Hanoi has earned its reputation as Vietnam’s most historical city, where the quintessence of culture has been well-preserved for hundreds of years. For the Hanoians, their hometown city is in fact, represented through a series of rustic condominiums – the remaining feature of the old-Hanoi after several generations.
The old condominiums of Hanoi
The Old Quarter is always the first area that pops into mind when mentioning Hanoi. There is, however, another side of the city that has experienced the gradual “evolution” from the Subsidy period to the modern version of today. Yes, I am talking about Hanoi’s old condominiums. There are many condominiums in town, with their names composed of an alphabet letter and a number such as A1, B2, etc., located around the city from the neighborhoods of Nguyen Cong Tru, Kim Lien, and Giang Vo to the areas of Thanh Xuan Bac, and Trung Tu-Pham Ngoc Thach.
The highlight of these condos is how they maintain the region’s communal lifestyle in a traditional way. Depending on the architecture, most floors are divided into two secure blocks, which are connected by a stairway. Perhaps, through the fact of sharing common facilities, these residents are pulled closer to each other into a close-knit community. They greet, they chat and visit each other at their apartments. Even the children often gather and play in the shared courtyard. A most memorable reminiscence about these condominiums is the block manager along with his large bulletin board listing varied information of interest to the community, from weddings and daily news to funerals.
The old condominiums have truly become the small villages inside the big town of Hanoi.
A Rebirth among the skyscrapers
Through time, these condominiums have been gradually replaced by skyscrapers and modern apartment buildings. These condominiums have not only been the living space, but have become an inspirational area for the younger generation to explore. Thus, many coffee shops and restaurants have opened in these old condo communities, taking advantage of nostalgic and classic style such as Thuong Tra Quan, Tracce Café, MaisondeMerin, and numerous other small cafes scattered in Doi Can and Giang Vo areas.
Popular photographers also find these condominiums attractive for their vintage and rusticity. For instance, the one on Ly Dao Thanh Street continues to impress visitors by offering a most beautiful background in the center of Hanoi, surrounded by luxurious fashion boutiques and cafes. For book lovers, Dinh Le Street must be visited, where bookstores and apartments are intertwined to become a unique and fascinating complex.
Each vintage condominium can be considered as an individual communal village, which will unfortunately vanish in the future expansion of urban development. Time may pass, things may disappear but the memories about this treasure of Hanoi will last.