Student keen on conserving ancient HCMC wharf

Student keen on conserving ancient HCMC wharf
Architect student Huynh Thanh Nha during a field trip to collect materials for his project.

Infatuated with Ho Chi Minh City’s 200-year-old Binh Dong wharf in district 8, architecture student Huynh Thanh Nha and his team conceived a project to preserve its unrivalled beauty and prevent it from going ‘extinct’.

Nha, a student of HCMC Architecture University, has visited Binh Dong wharf and marveled at its grace almost every day. He has long been preoccupied with the preservation of its beauty and cultural identity, and recently came up with innovative ideas on how to achieve this.

The wharf, once one of the bustling areas of Cho Lon (HCMC’s “melting pot” with a high concentration of Chinese), used to be packed with small boats on Tau Hu canal. The place was full of commotion by day, enigmatic and sparkling by night.

The 200-year-old landmark has retained some of its original characteristics and architectural features, complimented by nearby houses and warehouses from the same era.

However, Nha was quite concerned that the treasured architectural, historical and cultural traits were quickly eroding and might disappear altogether at any time due to the city’s urbanization and many civil engineering projects.

Moved to prevent this, Nha and two of his friends came up with a project to preserve Binh Dong wharf.

Nha’s project, which many think only Ph.D holders have the expertise to complete, faced many difficulties. It took many months for him and his friends to take photos of the area and obtain the area’s planning map.

They also spent a lot of time researching the wharf’s varied components as well as getting to know the locals and and finding out what they wanted for the wharf’s future.

During Tet traditional holidays in early February, instead of reuniting with their families, Nha and his two friends stayed in Cho Lon and interviewed locals and the ‘river people’, who only use their boats during Tet flower markets as the government has now forbidden boats from anchoring and peddling along the canal. They then spent two sleepless months compiling their research.

Nha has always gifted his projects and designs to locals. He will now hand over his Binh Dong wharf project, which won top prize in his university contest, to those interested in and dedicated to the preservation of the wharf.