Southern Vietnamese modernist architecture was developed in the mid-twentieth century by Vietnamese architects responding to the particular conditions of modernity applicable in southern Vietnam. They used the principles of modernism developed in the Industrial Age to inform how the vocabulary of Vietnamese modernist architecture could be applied to help Vietnam become a modern country, solve housing shortages, and create a Vietnamese vernacular architecture expressing Vietnamese identity. All of these 'm-words’: modernity, modernism, modern, and modernist, are important in explaining and presenting southern Vietnamese modernist architecture, or any modern architecture. In our book Southern Vietnamese Modernist Architecture, we define these words and how they apply to the Vietnamese context in the section entitled "Modernity and Modernism" on pages 21-23 of the Vietnam edition.
There is another opportunity to understand these words in a presentation that Mel gave at the American Center in Ho Chi Minh City on 14 October 2020. This presentation was live-streamed on Facebook at the time and is available as the video below. Since the presentation was live-streamed, it starts with a static introduction graphic for the first 4 minutes (so you don’t realize you are actually watching a video), the introduction of the program at about 4:15, and then the presentation begins at 7:50. Unfortunately, the sound level was too low for a few minutes, becoming normal around 10:00. The projectionist was also slow in advancing the slides shown in the video, so they don’t always match what I was talking about. Nevertheless, this video could be helpful to you in clearing up the confusion surrounding these 'm-words'.