Exploring the Indochinese Architectural Style in Vietnam


The Indochinese architectural style is one of the distinctive architectural styles in Vietnam, harmoniously combining the influences of two major world cultures, China and India. Through this unique fusion, Indochinese architecture has endowed architectural structures with a distinctive beauty, while also reflecting the identity and rich history of the country.

In reality, the Indochinese style not only exists in Vietnam but also prevails in many countries in the Southeast Asian region, such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and more. However, in this article, we will focus on exploring the Indochinese architectural style in Vietnam.

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What is the Indochinese Architectural Style?

In French, “Indochine” is used to refer to the countries on the Indochinese Peninsula (the Central-Annamite region), including: Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

The Indochinese architectural style is a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western cultures, particularly the two major world cultures: China and India. In Vietnam, the Indochinese architecture bears significant influences from Chinese culture due to a thousand years of domination. Meanwhile, Laos and Cambodia are influenced by the culture of India.

The Indochinese architectural style, characterized by its high aesthetic value, reflects the essence and rich history of the two regions. It is not just a combination of architectural elements but also a fusion of cultural, religious, and spiritual aspects.

One could say that the Indochinese architecture is a harmonious blend of the Vietnamese cultural identity and the classical French style. This architecture showcases a unique, balanced beauty between Western and Eastern cultures. The fashion industry often likens the Indochine Style to a “French kiss on the lips of an Asian girl,” being romantic, elegant, yet deeply rooted in tradition.

This architectural style contributes to honoring the national architectural art, encouraging Vietnamese architects to continue on the artistic path that embodies the cultural essence of the country.

Characteristics of the Indochinese Architectural Style

The Indochinese architectural style exhibits notable features such as:

Dominant Colors in Indochinese Style

Neutral tones dominate the entire interior in the Indochinese design style, including light yellow, cream, and white, creating a comfortable feel suitable for Vietnam’s tropical climate.

Additionally, Indochinese interior spaces are furnished with items made of wood, bamboo, rattan, etc., carrying the essence of the East and providing a familiar and intimate atmosphere for everyone. It can be said that the Indochinese style is quite similar to the rustic style in interior design with warm color tones.

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Materials Used in Indochinese Architectural Style

  • Wood: Wood is a durable, solid, and flexible material that can be used to create patterns, curves, or easily applied to interior decoration, from ceilings, walls to floors. Natural wood is a commonly seen material in the decoration and design of Indochinese-style interiors. Additionally, decorative details such as circular shapes, bas-reliefs, etc., are often crafted from wood.
  • Bamboo Material: Bamboo was often used in traditional interior design. Today, bamboo has become a prominent decorative material in high-end homes with Indochinese style.
  • Tile Material: Ceramic and clay tiles are frequently used in Indochinese interior design, providing a luxurious yet elegant and sophisticated appearance to the room.

The Harmonious Combination of Eastern and Western Architectural Elements

The Indochinese style distinctly showcases the harmonious blend of Eastern and Western architectural elements. Elements from the East are evident in details such as curved tile roofs, attic windows, columns, and decorative motifs. Meanwhile, Western architectural elements are expressed through features like mansard roofs, arched windows, balconies, and more.

This has contributed to the uniqueness and distinctiveness of Indochinese architectural structures, bringing about a harmonious and refined beauty.

Harmony with the Tropical Monsoon Climate

The Indochinese architectural style is designed to suit Vietnam’s tropical monsoon climate. Indochinese architectural structures often feature curved tile roofs for effective water drainage, attic windows for natural light and ventilation. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also provides favorable conditions for the inhabitants’ daily lives.

High Aesthetic Value

The Indochinese architectural style exudes a harmonious, refined, and elegant beauty. The combination of architectural and cultural elements has resulted in structures with high aesthetic value, contributing to the distinctive character of Vietnamese architecture.

Types of Indochinese Architectural Styles

Throughout its development, the Indochinese architectural style has undergone various variations, depending on different regions and historical periods. However, we can categorize it into three main types:

Classic Indochinese Architectural Style

This type of architecture evolved from the 10th to the 19th century and was commonly used in structures such as temples, palaces, and castles. These constructions often feature curved tile roofs, attic windows, columns, and intricate decorative motifs.

Modern Indochinese Architectural Style

This architectural style emerged in the 20th century and continues to be widely used in residential buildings, office towers, and more. Modern Indochinese architecture often incorporates more Western architectural elements, though it still preserves the distinctive characteristics of Indochinese architecture.

Contemporary Indochinese Architectural Style

This is the newest type of architecture, developed in recent years. This architectural style often combines traditional and modern elements, creating a unique and contemporary aesthetic.

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Prominent Indochinese Architectural Structures in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the countries with many outstanding and beautiful Indochinese architectural structures. Indochinese ancient houses feature curved tile roofs, attic windows, and intricate decorative motifs. Modern Indochinese architectural villas showcase a fusion of traditional and modern elements. Contemporary Indochinese houses combine modern architectural and interior design elements.

Below are some exemplary architectural structures representing the beauty and uniqueness of the Indochinese architectural style:

One-Pillar Pagoda (Hanoi)

Built in the 11th century, the One-Pillar Pagoda is one of the most beautiful examples of classic Indochinese architectural structures in Vietnam. The pagoda features a curved tile roof, attic windows, and intricate decorative motifs, creating a magnificent beauty.

Hue Imperial City (Hue)

The Hue Imperial City is one of the largest classic Indochinese architectural structures in Vietnam, constructed in the 19th century. With curved tile roofs, attic windows, and meticulously carved columns, the palace creates an incredibly luxurious and prestigious space.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is one of the most beautiful examples of modern Indochinese architectural structures in Vietnam. Blending Western and Indochinese architectural styles, the cathedral offers a unique and refined beauty.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Indochinese Architectural Style


  • Indochinese architectural style is characterized by high aesthetics, sophistication, and elegance.
  • The combination of architectural and cultural elements has resulted in unique and beautiful structures.
  • Designs are suitable for the tropical monsoon climate, providing favorable conditions for people’s lives.


  • The construction and maintenance costs of Indochinese architectural structures can be high due to the complexity in design and construction.
  • Indochinese architectural structures may not be suitable for some regions with different climates, leading to difficulties in maintenance and repair.

Current Trends in Indochinese Architectural Design

Currently, the trend of designing in the Indochinese architectural style is receiving significant attention and development. With a blend of traditional and modern elements, Indochinese architecture brings about a unique and refined beauty.

Some current trends in Indochinese architectural design include:

  • Incorporate traditional architectural elements such as curved tile roofs, dormer windows, columns, etc., combined with modern elements like mansard roofs, glass windows, etc.
  • Create focal points by using intricate and exquisite decorations on the structures.
  • Utilize natural materials like wood, stone, etc., to enhance the aesthetic and uniqueness of the architecture.
  • Adopt minimalist patterns and simple accents in Indochinese-style interior design to achieve an open and modern aesthetic.
  • Indochinese-style patterns feature simple geometric lines, artistically stylized from leaves, with meticulous and sophisticated expressions. Artistic and figurative themes include:
  • Use traditional Vietnamese relief sculptures such as Buddha statues symbolizing peace; puppet carvings depicting folk figures; the four mythical creatures of Dragon, Unicorn, Tortoise, and Phoenix symbolizing luck; lotus flowers as a symbol of purity, brightness; chrysanthemums: discreet, simple, elegant, and durable; Bodhi tree as a symbol of the great enlightenment of the Buddha.

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Interior Design for Homes in Indochinese Style

When designing the interior of a home in the Indochinese architectural style, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Choose natural materials such as wood, stone, etc., to create a connection between architecture and interior design.
  • Use furniture with intricate and exquisite patterns to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the space.
  • Arrange furniture in a harmonious way to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for users.

Considerations When Designing and Constructing a House in Indochinese Architectural Style

When designing and constructing a house in the Indochinese architectural style, it’s important to take the following points into consideration:

  • Study the Indochinese architecture thoroughly to accurately apply its elements in the design.
  • Choose construction and interior materials that are suitable for the Indochinese architectural style.
  • Arrange spaces harmoniously to create a comfortable feeling for users.
  • The cost of designing and constructing a house in the Indochinese architectural style can range from average to high, depending on the complexity of the project and the materials used. However, with high aesthetics and the uniqueness of the architecture, this cost is worth investing in for a beautiful and luxurious home.

Indochinese architectural style is an integral part of Vietnam’s cultural identity. With its high aesthetic value and the fusion of architectural and cultural elements, it has created beautiful and unique structures. Currently, the trend of designing and building houses in the Indochinese architectural style is gaining strong attention and development, contributing to the distinctive character of Vietnamese architecture.

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