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Headquarters of the Indochina Bank in Hanoi in the 1930sSource: Center for Archives of 20th Century Architecture - France

In 1885, in Paris - France, the Indochina Bank was established with the exclusive role of printing money in Indochina, providing finance for foreign trade and supporting business activities in all fields. Indochina Bank opened its Headquarters in Hanoi in 1887 in a house on Jules Ferry Street (now Hang Trong Street), but this location does not befit the status of a financial authority. Construction started on the new headquarters in Courbet Avenue (now Ly Thai To Street) on an area of 3150m2 and was completed in 1931.

The Bank, located on Courbet Avenue (now Ly Thai To Street), was designed by architect Felíx Dumail (1883 - 1955) in 1923 in a Neoclassical style to blend with the surrounding buildings. However, in 1928, the architectural form of the building was redesigned by architect Georges Trouvé (1902 - 1935) in the Art Deco style, with the main focus being straight lines and simple, coherent geometric shapes.

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The original perspective of the Bank in the Neoclassical styleSource: Hanoi Museum

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Drawing of the Indochina Bank's facade in the Art Deco style, scale 1/100, dated March 1, 1928

Source: Center for Archives of 20th Century Architecture - France

The structure of the building includes three floors and a basement: the basement has very thick walls, where the vaults, precious metals and service rooms are located; The first and second floors are open-floor transaction spaces; The third floor is the working rooms.

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Transaction space and working room inside the BankSource: Center for Archives of 20th Century Architecture - France

The most notable feature of the project is the architectural details designed to suit the tropical climate of Hanoi, such as the extensive roof and the glass door system arranged back from the wall to avoid sunlight. The domes in the main lobby provide ventilation and natural light, creating a bright and cool space.

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Left: drawing of the dome in the main hall, source: Center for Archives of 20th Century Architecture - France; Right: Photo of the current dome, source: Architect Nguyen Phu Duc

In addition to the simple, modern shapes and lines of the Art Deco style, the decorative theme is interwoven with Asian motifs such as clouds, tigers, and stylised Chinese characters.

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Decorative details of cloud pattern and tiger face

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Iron railings with motifs of the word "Tho"

Photo: Nguyen Hung

After 1953, the Indochina Bank was dissolved. In 1955, it was handed over to the National Bank of Vietnam, now the headquarters of the State Bank of Vietnam.


Nguyễn Hưng