Hanoi Ad Hoc 1.0 – Architecture, Factories and (Re)Tracing the Modern Dream of Recent Past

by Robbie

In 1890, Tony Garnier started working on his revolutionary model for the “cité industrielle”. This ideal industrial city was conceived mainly from 4 separated programs: production, housing, health and leisure facilities in which the production program is the core concept of modern cities.

At the same time, in another part of the planet, Hanoi stepped into its first industrialization and began to densify,taking on the appearance of a modern city as the result of the “mission civilisatrice”’s implementation. However, the city wasn’t designed with any of Garnier’s principles. Instead of applying the strict zoning regulations,there are barely separations between living and production. The factories were located in the heart of Hanoi and some scattered around the city as the belated effort of Hébrard to reduce the air pollution for the inner city. Hence, they remain today as part of Hanoi’s urban fabric which is integrated in a “bricolage”way into indigenous residential fabrics. The Hanoian urbanscape demonstrates clearly the unwillingness of long term policies toward the industrialization in Indochina of Jules Ferry.

Hanoi Ad hoc 1.0 will interrogate the forgotten lives of industrial factories in the tropical, post-colonial urban context of Hanoi, Vietnam. As part of the national call to rebuild and modernise the nation by Ho Chi Minh in 1966, these industrial factories played a significant role in facilitating material culture and abundance in the life of an average Vietnamese. More than mere production facilities, these factories with their own diverse architecture, etched into the mind of its occupants, shaped their subjectivities and subsequently influenced their everyday lives.

After the war, with the nation opening its door to the infinite sea of free market and neoliberalism, these urban artifacts gradually lost out their purposes and were slated to be replaced by generic capitalistic development. By investigating their current urban conditions using anthropological techniques, retracing their architecture with architectural drawings methodology and situating these knowledge in a greater socio-historical context, we aim to unearth these factories’ former selves and subsequently imagine their alternate futures.


Hanoi Ad Hoc is a collaborative whose members are based in various cities across France, England, US and Vietnam.

Hence, The theoretical research is conducted parallely in Paris, London, Berlin and Hanoi while the production, site survey and the symposium will take place in Hanoi.


Dec 2020 – Dec 2021


With a broad audience targeting,the final outcome aims to reach intellectuals, practitioners, stakeholders, decidors in order to convince people to see industrial heritages and the preservation in multiple perspectives. To do things right, we must understand it right beforehand. The outcome will be a collection of critical writings, reliable databases, finest architectural drawings which will serve as a strong foundation for further research and developments.

Urban investigation, recording and response

Anthropological investigation into the current conditions of factories of interest.

Narrating these factories’ conditions and their surroundings using architectural drawings, diagrams, montage, collage.

Developing a position regarding the post-occupant of these factories of interest, understand the context of these buildings through analysing its dialectic relationship and material presence with its neighbouring habitants, and project a potential response to these sites.

Axonometric Drawings

A series of axonometric drawings in large format to illustrate the building of interests as accurately as possible . The series will be accompanied with photographic documentations to serve as a long term research archive. Each investigated building will be represented by one of these drawings with the angles determined onsite to show the most prominent features of the building. The drawings will be drawing in Axonometric format, providing the objectivity and rational characteristic of architecture during the early modernist period. The drawings also contain only single lineweight, flattening out the perception, freezing the building at the moment of record and further emphasising its ‘objectiveness’. Each building of the axonometric series will be shown on its own with architecture as the main subject, stripped down to its bare components.

Urban anthropological drawings

For each building of interest, previously mentioned axonometric large format drawings will be accompanied with two to three anthropological drawings. The drawings situate the building of interest in its urban context, everyday life and the narrative of Vietnamese people. Each drawing repositions from an objective to subjective point of view, gradually allowing the views to empathise and submerge themselves into the life of these so-called ruins.

‘Slide-Cut-Paste’ Diagrams / Collage / Montage

The drawings are reinforced with a series of diagrams illustrating a ranged aspect regarding building of interest. To achieve these diagrams, upon gathering documents and photographing buildings of interest, these materials are broken and extracted specific information can be carried out. The aim, unlike previous ‘slow drawings’, is to efficiently produce a set of information that can be used post-workshop and illustrate the overall workshop’s argument and narrative.

In terms of urban studies, these allow researchers to explore the site historically, projectively and diagramatically. In terms of building of interest, it allows the team to start observing the building at detail / component level which would feedback to the accuracy of the accuracy of axonometric drawings.


Design Provocation

Apart from pure gathering information and collecting data, through discussion within the teams, design provocations are developed to establish different positions towards the lives of these factories and sites. Unlike a detailed architectural proposal, this quick design provocation will serve as conceptual / practical/ critical/ projective platforms for future possibilities and open up a conversation, contributing directly to the architectural knowledge production in Vietnam.

Collective on-site field work (Aug – Sep 2021)

Field work

For 2 weeks, the three research teams will converge in Hanoi for collective field work. This provides an opportunity for the teams to assess their off-site investigation, reflect on their progress and form research insight.

During these two weeks, we welcome interest from volunteers to come join us on our collective field trip, research discussion and production. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce these volunteers to a wider range of skill set and expertise; from architectural drawings to anthropological investigation method. Ultimately this will be an event to develop an interest in a critical understanding of the urban condition that they live in.

For everyone from every nationality aged 18+

No prior knowledge or training in architecture or design is required. Those new to the subject are encouraged.

Applicants should have sufficient English language skills to communicate during the course of the programme.

Research lectures and specialists’ talks.

In cooperation with local institutions and agencies, research members are encouraged to give lectures of interest to introduce their theoretical positions for the research taking into consideration the factories’ context and urban conditions. Reading materials can be provided to help reach out to the research’s wider audience.

In addition, specialists’ talks will be held to discuss significant case studies projects in Vietnam, to facilitate knowledge exchange between international and local researcher and to encourage future collaboration. .

Architectural visits

In parallel with the workshop’s investigation into post-industrial factories, research teams will visit contemporary architecture of interest to gain an additional understanding of the current state of Vietnamese architecture and architectural practice. Specialists’ talks can be held during these visits.


As part of a wider research program, the research hopes to bring together several experts in the field of architecture to have a critical discussion. Participants are encouraged to attend and contribute to the debate in the symposium.

Symposium aims to provide an arena for cultural/ architectural debates. The desired outcome would be to put together a panel of opposing views and, through conversation, to establish a common ground to facilitate critical discourse and creative resolution regarding these factories. The symposium, hopefully, will bring some of the issues of these important factories into a wider public discourse and serve as a catalyst for future changes.

Potential panelists (To be confirmed)

2.3 Exhibition (Nov 2021 – Dec 2021)

2.4 Publication (Dec 2021 – Mar 2022)

Research materials after the public exhibition will be refined, compiled and published. This publication will conclude the workshop of the current year and tie back into Hanoi Ad hoc’s greater research.

Critical writings by every project’s partners and/or contributors, guests

This publication is the opportunity to launch an architectural investigation-to recall, by using examples, that study of the past could become the basis for the future creation of a built environment.

Related Posts