Ernest Hebrard’s Indochina - a tour of the buildings of the Indochine architect - Rusty Compass travel blog

Ernest Hebrard’s Indochina - a tour of the buildings of the Indochine architect

| 25 Sep 2016
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25 Sep 2016

Indochine architect Ernest Hebrard's work is impossible to miss if you're travelling in Hanoi. He left his mark on Saigon, Phnom Penh and Dalat as well. We've put together this little tour of Hebrard's work in Indochina.

In 1923, a Frenchman named Ernest Hebrard arrived in Hanoi to take up the senior role in urban planning and architecture across the colonies of Indochina. You may not hear his name as you travel through Vietnam and Cambodia, but you’ll definitely come across his work - either in the form of architecture, or in city plans, now buckling under the strain of population growth and development.

Hebrard’s few years in Indochina were incredibly productive and influential - nowhere more so than Hanoi, the then capital of French Indochina. He created some of the most prominent surviving colonial buildings - and pioneered an architectural style that fused local and European elements for both aesthetic and practical purposes.



Many grand European style structures were built through the colonies - but they weren’t well suited to the hot, humid climate. Hebrard’s buildings, and those of his contemporaries, became known as the Indochine style. They acknowledged local architectural traditions, and the prevailing climatic conditions of the region.

Hebrard’s role extended beyond the creation of some of the most spectacular surviving buildings in the former French colonies. He was also instrumental in developing urban plans for Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Dalat. And these urban plans have survived to some extent - though they’ve probably outlived their usefulness as dramatic population growth and a race to build tall buildings, make urban planning a lower order priority for local governments.

Hebrard is best remembered not for his work in French Indochina, but in Greece, where was responsible for the redevelopment of Thessaloniki, after the great fire of 1917.

One of the frustrations in creating this blog has been the scarcity of information about the life and work of Hebrard. My guess is that the architecture and history schools of France and other countries are bulging with writings about the man. Yet, I have struggled to go beyond the most superficial information available online and in widely known works such as William Logan’s, Hanoi a biography of a city. It would be great to know more. If you have access to more information, please let us know.

It's worth noting that, with the exception of the Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi. access to all of these buildings is restricted. You'll need to be lucky to get inside.



Museum of Vietnamese History, formerly Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient and Louis Finot Museum, Hanoi (1926 - 1932)

Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi - by Hebrard
Photo: Mark Bowyer Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi - by Hebrard

 

Hebrard's Museum of Vienamese History, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Museum of Vienamese History, Hanoi



Located in the French Quarter, the Museum of Vietnamese History is one of Vietnam’s best and is worth visiting both for its collection and Hebrard’s architecture.


Science Museum, Hanoi - formerly Hanoi University 1926, and Pasteur Institute, Hanoi 1930

Hebrard's Science University, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Science University, Hanoi

 

Ernest Hebrard's Science University in Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ernest Hebrard's Science University in Hanoi
 

 

Ernest Hebrard's Science University in Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ernest Hebrard's Science University in Hanoi
 
 
Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi

 

Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi

 

Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Pasteur Institute



Perhaps 500 metres from Metropole Hotel take a walk along Le Thanh Tong St past the Science Museum and down to the Pasteur Institute. You’ll spot some other colonial gems along the way. Hebrard also designed the gardens as you approach the Pasteur Insitite building.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hanoi - formerly Ministry of Finance 1927

Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Hebrard, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Hebrard, Hanoi


Right by Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square.


Cua Bac Church, Hanoi, 1925

Hebrard's Cua Bac Church
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Cua Bac Church


Along Phan Dinh Phung St - Hanoi’s most beautiful street.

 

Le Hong Phong School, formerly Petrus Ky school, Saigon 1927

Le Hong Phong (formerly Petrus Ky) School.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Le Hong Phong (formerly Petrus Ky) School.

 

Le Hong Phong (formerly Petrus Ky) School.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Le Hong Phong (formerly Petrus Ky) School.

 

Le Hong Phong (formerly Petrus Ky) School.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Le Hong Phong (formerly Petrus Ky) School.



In District 5, this has been one of Saigon's most prestigious schools since French times. Access is restricted. Check out Petrus Ky’s mausoleum and Cho Quan Church while you’re in the area.



Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh 1929

The 1929 Hotel Le Royal - designed by Ernest Hebrard.
Photo: Mark Bowyer The 1929 Hotel Le Royal - designed by Ernest Hebrard.



A Phnom Penh landmark. Pop by for a look and a drink if your budget prevents you from staying.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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