CultureGeneral Interest

No Measures In Place To Stop Disappearance Of Colonial Buildings

No concrete solution has been determined to save Laos’ colonial and traditional buildings, which are disappearing due to urbanisation.

Officials from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism’s Heritage Department expressed concern that if there were no coordinated preservation efforts or proper town planning the historical architecture would disappear.

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are rich in colonial French architecture.

See here our article on “French and Lao Colonial Buildings In Vientiane”

But at its current stage in development, Laos is struggling with the ongoing challenge of preserving these buildings.

Tourists and foreign expatriates told Vientiane Times that Vientiane used to have the potential to become one of the most attractive and charming cities in Southeast Asia, but a lack of good planning and proper zoning has gradually eroded the city’s attractiveness.

Deputy Director General of the department Mr Samlane Luangaphay said it was common for the old buildings to be pulled down and new ones to be built in their place.

“We are aware of the changes, but we can’t do much to stop it,” Mr Samlane said.IMG_3412

He said regulations and laws had been put in place but were being ignored.

The law clearly states that development and conservation have to be managed alongside each other, requiring all sectors including town planners, architects and officials from the heritage department to work together closely.

“Town planning is a key to saving these significant buildings that play an important role in tourism and the charm of the city. We have to designate clearly where should be developed and where should be conserved,” he said.

“No matter whether they are colonial, traditional or contemporary buildings, each is significant for Laos and its history.

“We have to keep in mind that when it is gone, it is gone forever.”

An official from the department who spoke on the conditions of various buildings said many had already disappeared and some office buildings had been taken over by private owners without the permission of the department.

7a-Colonial Villas junction Lane Xang-SamsenthaiAccording to the department, some buildings have been recreated well by developers exactly copying the original design, although with different materials.

As long as the owners seek permission and allow the officials to access the conditions of buildings, the department will consider their request for development.

The department is also aware that some buildings in Laos have been standing for a long time and need to be pulled down or renovated.

Officials in charge of listing heritage and colonial buildings said they had maintained a list of the country’s important buildings since 2002, and some had since been destroyed.

They said they had submitted a proposal to the government asking for funding so a new registry of buildings could be put together, and said they would begin work on the list once they were allocated a budget.

Source: Vientiane Times