Ho Chi Minh/ Soviet Socialist Influences on Vietnam’s Townscape and Architecture

After Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Communist started a revolution against French rule and the final defeat of the French in 1954, Ho and his colleagues encouraged art with a strong nationalist messages. Due to the war and economic constraints, development of the country’s infrastructure was relatively slow, yet it was an intensive period of educational planning, design and construction in Vietnamese history owed to the significant need for qualified forces in the country.


As part of the Soviet economic and political league, North Vietnam was influenced by the Soviet socialist in many cultural ways, including in its architecture and town planning. The transfer of design ideologies and practices to Vietnam played a significant role not only in shaping Vietnam’s townscapes, but also in reinforcing the general Soviet supremacy in Vietnam.


As in the Soviet Union, the architectural and urban planning professions played a fundamental role in Vietnam’s reconstruction. Architects and planners were necessarily recruited in the socialist cause. The official line was summarized in the slogan ‘Learning from experience, our new architects must carry out the Party’s resolutions, developing in our country a national and modern socialist architecture’. The same situation arose when communism took over South Vietnam in 1975.


After the reunification of Vietnam in 1976, the Communist government continued to exercise strict control over art and architecture, which reflected the country’s close political bonds with the Soviet Union. The Soviet style found its most prominent expression in Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in Hanoi, a stark concrete building based on Lenin’s tomb in Moscow.


After the Vietnam War, the government has initiated a period of greater cultural freedom. One result of the economic liberalization has been a plethora of new commercial complexes and high-rises in Ho Chi Mihn City.


1 Comment on “Ho Chi Minh/ Soviet Socialist Influences on Vietnam’s Townscape and Architecture

  1. The Soviet influence on Vietnam took place mainly from 1955-90 and this could be seen in Hanoi city as well as in Ho Chi Minh. The ability of Vietnam to adapt to such influences is one of the main reasons for its cultural and national survival. Despite the fact that it had to also follow many features of the cultures of its invaders, Vietnam yet managed and preserved key elements of its own culture, (such as language and legend). With the period of ‘cultural freedom’, what could be interesting in this context would be to see how the new developments actually reflect back to Vietnam’s culture but yet promote a sense of modernity or how this ‘cultural freedom’ period could produce developments that would stretch the claimed adaptability of the cities.

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