English man helps preserve architecture of HCM City
  • | PLTPHCM, | January 01, 2015 08:46 AM
Tim Doling, an English cultural researcher, has spent nearly 20 years trying to preserve architectural heritage sites in HCM City.


Researcher Tim Doling 

Doling first visited Vietnam in 1989 and worked with the Ministry of Culture on some art and cultural development projects.

He got married with a Vietnamese woman in 1996 before renewing contact with the Ministry of Cultural on a project funded by the Ford Foundation, compiling a curriculum of art and cultural management at colleges and universities.

After retiring in 2010, he decided to live in HCM City with his wife and daughter and spent most of his time studying Vietnamese history with a focus on HCM City.

“I wanted to understand the history of the place where I’m living," he said. "After becoming a son-in-law of Vietnam, I consider the country my second home.”

He contributed to the preservation of old architectural works in HCM City by writing articles about these places in order to enhance people’s awareness of the need to preserve the city's heritages.

“I really hope that my job could help the heritage preservation group that was founded under the leadership of the Finish Consulate in their preservation efforts. However, we do not have much time to save old buildings which risk being destroyed."

Through his research, Doling said many heritage buildings in Vietnam face destruction.

He said that in order to harmonise preservation and development, the preservation of heritage buildings should be prioritised in policies at local and central levels. Several studies in other countries have shown that preserving tangible heritage has economic benefits by stimulating cultural diversity and cultural tourism.

Authorities in such countries as the UK, the US, France and Ireland, Japan and Singapore have come to regret sacrificing heritage buildings to the drive for mordernisation and development. Now they are trying to preserve what they have left, and Vietnam in general and HCM in particular could draw lessons from them, Doling said.

“When I conducted research about architectural works in HCM City, I really wanted to introduce them to foreign tourists," he said. "I see that most tourists only visit a handful of popular sites in HCM City while there are many other interesting historical places that could help develop the city into a centre of heritage tourism. I’ve written several books about Vietnam’s tourism, culture and history."

Doling said he also wants to promote the historical heritage of Danang City and Haiphong City, both of which boast important architecture.

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