Colonial Architecture in Vietnam

Vietnam was under the French rule in the 19th century; The French left Vietnam but left their mark in the form of buildings in many places especially Hanoi. The French started by demolishing the old buildings and building new ones in their place. The French wanted to give the place European look and that is why buildings were constructed on European patterns. Even today you can see boulevards lined with trees on both sides, villas and mansions in yellow stones and some extremely impressive buildings; all wonderful features of French architecture. To adapt to the new area, some local features were incorporated in the building style but the French influence was dominant.

The Presidential Palace in Hanoi is perhaps the grandest French Colonial structure. Built somewhere between 1900 and 1906, the Presidential Palace served as the residence of the French Governor-General of Indochina. The building is made of yellow stones and is guarded by wrought iron gates. It is quite impressive and heavily European with the mango trees on the grounds being the only local factor. The interior too has renaissance features like the quoins, columns and an impressive staircase. The Palace was renovated in 1990 and at present serves as a venue for government meetings. Only the spacious grounds and the lovely gardens of the Presidential Palace can be seen by the public (an entry fee is charged).

Constructed in 1886, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral is another beautiful example of French colonial architecture. Stained glass windows which throw off different hues of colors when light falls on them and tall towers are some features found in the cathedrals in Europe. The church still holds masses with the number of worshippers reaching in thousands.

The date of construction of the Hanoi Opera House is recorded as 1911 though it could have been constructed earlier. It is built on almost the same pattern as the Opera House in France. The splendor and beauty of this building is beyond description. French neo-classic patterns like wrought iron balconies, tiles and shuttered windows dominate the yellow stoned exterior. The impressive entrance is features columns and a wrought iron balcony which overlook the city. The Opera House was renovated in 1990 and with a seating capacity of 900 people; it continues to entertain the people. To see the building from inside, you need to purchase a ticket for the performance.

The Birth of Art – The New Stone (Neolithic) Age

Neolithic Age or the New Stone Age embarked upon a technologically and socially, much more advanced era for humankind than the yesteryears. This period marked the dawn of civilization when people began choosing settlement over wandering. The dwellings of this time included huts made of mud, straw, or brick, which collectively formed permanent villages. The Neolithic Age also witnessed the domestication of animals, the appearance of complex tools for fishing & hunting, and advancements in agriculture & pottery. Religious, architectural, and artistic pursuits became integral to the lifestyle.

Diverse art forms, such as weaving, architecture, Megaliths, and stylized pictographs, emerged during the New Stone Age only. Statuary, painting, and pottery carried down from the Mesolithic period, underwent significant transformations. In Western Europe, the Menhirs (large stone blocks) started being used to demarcate the boundaries between two tribal establishments, sacrificial arena, or places of worship. The artistic inclination of the people in the Neolithic Age, is evidenced by the way these Menhirs were decorated using myriad geometrical figures, like squares, rhombuses, and circles, along with zigzag ray forms carved onto the sides.

Statuettes of the New Stone Age mainly featured ‘Mother Goddess,’ as can be seen from the earliest traces of human figurines, discovered during archaeological excavations. The pottery used during this period also demonstrates the artistic skills of people. These artifacts were decorated with bright colors, including red, brown, and yellow. Paintings were now visible on the walls of domestic establishments, which were mainly used for ornamental purposes. The world’s earliest landscape paintings too came out of the New Stone Age.

The artistic expressions developed in tandem with the people’s requirements. For instance, architecture developed with the increase in demand for permanent dwellings and the places of worship. Similarly, woodcrafts and pottery developed to fulfill the need for furniture and utensils. One of the architectural wonders of the Neolithic period was the use of the Megaliths, the most famous example being the Stonehenge in England. The oldest known Megalithic temple is Gqantija on the Gozo Island. Neolithic paintings and the other art forms have been great aids in the study of human evolution, as they form the crucial link between early man and his environment, the level of development in that era, the cultural practices, and the religious beliefs. Art of this period in fact, laid the foundation for all further artistic forms.

Another interesting characteristic of the Neolithic Age artistry is the depiction of powerful animals, like Bison and Aurochs that men dreaded to hunt because of the sheer threat they posed. The vertical arrangements of animals on pillars and other art works symbolize the sedentary lifestyle of this era. The importance of a hierarchical relationship between human beings and the spirits is portrayed along the vertical axes in these artifacts. This is also significant in proving that long before man started cultivation, he had begun the mental subjugation of animals and established his superiority over them. Therefore, the Neolithic Age Art serves as a guiding post for the understanding of the years of human history and evolution.

Natural Stone – It’s Classification and How to Care Them

Natural stones has been used for centuries to create beautiful roofs, floors, and walls. A property with natural stones which is properly installed and maintained can lasts for hundreds of years. What are the types or classifications of natural stones? How to take care of them so that they can lasts for several years? Listed below are the answers from the questions previously stated.

Limestone. A sedimentary rock composed largely of mineral calcite. Limestone is important for masonry, and architecture, vying with only granite and sandstone to be the most commonly used architectural stone. Limestone was most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Train stations, banks and other structures from that era are normally made of limestone. Limestone is used as a facade on some skyscrapers, but only in thin plates for covering rather than solid blocks.

Sandstone. These sedimentary rocks originated as loosed grains or rock materials, predominantly quarts but occasionally feldspar or some other minerals. Sandstones are very resistant to weathering yet are easy to work. Thus, this makes sandstone a common building and paving material. Some types of sandstone are excellent materials from which to make grindstones, for sharpening blades, and other implements. The cement of sandstone may be rich in various materials; Silica, Iron, Calcium Carbonate, all of which contribute to the final color and characteristics of the sandstone. Sandstone beds also posses natural jointing systems.

Granite. A common and widely occurring type of igneous rock. The minerals which make up a granite are generally quartz, feldspars and various mafic minerals. Granite is nearly always massive, hard and tough, and therefore it has gained widespread use as a construction stone. Granite can be worked to achieve every type of finish from traditional hand tooled, flame textured, shot blasted, acid washed, or honed to highly polished mirror finishes.

Natural stone which are properly maintained and cleaned can last a lifetime. There are several tips on how to care them. First, as much as possible dust mop floors frequently and clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap. After washing, thoroughly rinse and dry the surface with soft clean cloth. Spills on natural stone surfaces should be wipe out as soon as possible. To protect floor surfaces, do cover it with non-slip mats while place trivets or placements on countertop surfaces. Do not use cleaners that contains acid on marble and limestone surfaces.

There are several natural stones and the above listed are the most common. Limestone, sandstone, and granite are commonly used natural stone in the stone industry. The brief tips are listed above which provide essential guide on how to take care natural stone especially the limestone, sandstone, and granite. Hopefully, this guides could help every home owners in many ways.

Natural Stone Types and Granite Countertops

There are many different types of natural stones in the world and each has their own unique beauty, characteristics and applications for use. We have been able to identify some of the more popular stone types along with their properties, advantages and disadvantages and the most suitable usage in your home.

There are three different types of stones; Igneous, Metamorphic and Sedimentary. The Igneous stone is formed by cooling, or solid-state transformation of molten or semi-molten material in the Earth’s upper mantle or crust. Because it is formed under extreme pressure and high heat, this type of stone or rock tends to be very strong and dense. The Metamorphic stone is formed from any preexisting rock type in the Earth’s crust under variable conditions of high pressures, high temperatures, chemistry, and time. This process produces mechanically deformed stone and chemically altered the mineral assemblages of the parent stone. Metamorphic stones tend to be some of the most beautiful, colorful, and highly figured of any of the dimensional stones. Note that many of the metamorphic stones are up to 3.8 billion years old.

The last being the sedimentary stone which falls into one of two categories: Detrital sedimentary stone and chemical sedimentary stone. Detrital stone is the naturally cemented accumulation of solid granular particles or materials derived from both mechanical and chemical weathering of any existing rock. Examples include limestone and sandstone.

Limestone and Sandstone can both be used for fireplaces, vanities, flooring and furniture. They are very soft, porous, scratch and require maintenance. Sandstone has a very rustic look with fossils while Limestone has a very unique look & feel, and is also available in multiple finishes. Limestone has actually become quite popular for kitchens.

Chemical sedimentary stone is formed from the precipitates of chemicals like salt that are the dissolved weathering products of any existing stone. Chemical weathering yields soluble salts that in turn are deposited into pools and springs. This process yields stone such as onyx and certain Travertine. Onyx has a translucent and stunning appearance, scratches very easily and is quite soft. Onyx can be used for furniture, architectural & design elements, fireplaces and for powder rooms. Travertine has a cloudy formation when cross cut it gives it a more unique look, it is softer than marble and limestone, and it has many larger voids and stains. Travertine is suitable for vanities, floors, fireplaces and dryer locations.

Granite is an example of an igneous rock; it has a very high concentration of quartz, making it very hard and difficult to scratch. It is heat resistant (under 1,500 Fahrenheit), stain resistant and impervious to acids. There are extraordinary selections and finishes of granites available. It can be used anywhere; kitchens, floors, wet/dry, and for indoor and outdoor applications.

Quartzite is another example of an extremely hard stone yet classified as a metamorphic stone; it is one of the hardest stones used in commercial applications.It was originally formed from sandstone, quartzite generally is found in muted earth tones: grays, whites, browns, and yellows. It is very hard, dense and acid resistant. It is harder than granite and has exceptionally low moisture absorption; it is suitable in any application, though cost may be a consideration.

Another example of a metamorphic stone is Soapstone. It is one of the most unusual stones used in the commercial market today. Soapstone is soft and carveable and is resistant to acid. It is also one of the most popular stones used in kitchens today. Soapstone is an excellent choice for fireplaces surrounds as it absorbs and releases heat evenly. In order to keep it looking dark and vibrant, it is recommended that countertops be treated with mineral oil every six months.

Marble is also a metamorphic stone, it is classic with an “old world” look, it develops character with age. It is porous, scratches, stains, etches and requires care and maintenance. Marble can be used for vanities, fireplaces, furniture tops and kitchen countertops as well if honed. Serpentine although most closely related to marble, is technically not a “true marble,” it is by definition a metamorphic limestone. Often called a “green marble,” serpentine is usually dark green with white veining. This look is sought in luxury bathrooms and grand entrances alike. It is a relatively hard stone and does not scratch as easily as a “true marble.” It is acid and scratch-resistant making it a great choice for kitchen countertops. Other applications are floors, vanities and any dry locations; it is not good for showers or for any other wet applications as it could tend to warp over time.

Slate is another metamorphic stone that has been used as a durable roofing material for years. It generally comes in dark gray shades with hues of blue, purple, green and brown. Slates hardness varies significantly. Softer slates are best used for flooring and non-stressed architectural elements, like fireplaces. It can also be used for counters and vanities. It is rustic, stain resistant except for oils and does requires maintenance.

It is very important when considering a project, to ensure that the right material is used for the application. Every stone has specific characteristics. Using the wrong stone in an application can lead to material failure, damage, or other conditions. Knowing which stone to use in an application only comes from years of experience and you should always consult with an experienced stone professional.