Photo by Alexandre Garel © 2018
The ten-story modernist apartment building at 40-42 Nguyễn Huệ Blvd. was constructed in Saigon around 1950. Old Saigoneers with long memories recall that the building was designed by a French architect. It is likely that the building was constructed by a French developer/constructor such as Société urbaine foncière indochinoise, or Brossard et Mopin with an in-house architect. French architects working for those firms in the late 1940s include Maurice Masson and Robert Giles. It is a simple expression of structure — columns and spandrel beams. This building shows the power of modernist architecture to accommodate the needs and desires of the users — the exterior walls of tenant spaces have changed over time. It also demonstrates the ability of modernist architecture to adapt to new uses — over time, trendy retail shops and cafes have taken over apartments.