The Independence Palace is a unique architectural creation by the architect Ngo Viet Thu. Construction began in 1962 and was completed in 1966.
Architect Ngo Viet Thu designed the Palace to convey key principles of Eastern philosophy as well as the integration of traditonal and modern styles. Such attention inhabits everything, from the Palace’s exterior to the furniture inside. The Palace layout forms the Chinese character for “fortunate” or “auspicious”. The Room for Diplomatic Credential Presentation is considered the heart of the Palace. The Terrace is shaped in the character for MOUTH (Khẩu/Kou). It symbolizes “the floor safe in all four directions” and the value of education and free speech. In the center of the MOUTH is a vertical flag post forming the character FIDELITY (Trung/Hong), emphasizing that democracy requires fidelity. The terrace, balcony, and portico to the ante-chamber form the horizontal strokes in the character THREE (Tam/San), in accordance with the concept composed of democracy being composed of “Humanity, Intelligence, Strength.” The three horizontal strokes are connected by a vertical stroke forming the character KING (Vương/Wang), above which is a flag tower producing the dot in the character MASTER (Chủ/Zhu), symbolizing national sovereignty. On the front of the palace, the balconies of 2nd and 3rd floors combine with the main entrance portico and two wood covered columns below the portico to create the character PROSPERITY (Hưng/Xing) meaning to wish the country eternal prosperity..
The Palace’s external stone latticework surrounding its upper 2nd floor gives the impression of elegant bamboo sections. The stonework borrows stylistically from gates one finds at palaces in the former capital of Huế. Not only only does this add to the Palace’s beauty but it also mediates sunlight.
In the interior of the palace, its architectural elements trace straight, clean lines, allowing for the corridors, halls and rooms to have great natural lighting.
The Palace’s front lawn is oval-shaped with a diameter of 102m. The grassy lawn produces calm, cheerful feelings for guests when they walk through the gate.
Running along the length of the lobby is a half-moon shaped pool filled with lotus and lilly pads, suggestive of the ponds found in pagodas and palaces of traditional Vietnam.
The Palace has an area of 120,000 sq.m (300m x 400m) bounded by 4 main throughfares:
- Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street along the northeast (the front of the Palace)
- Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street on the southwest (the Palace rear)
- Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street along the northwest (to the left of the Palace)
- Nguyen Du Street on the southeast (to the right of the Palace)
The T-shaped main building area covers an area of 4,500sq.m and 26m in height. It is located at the center of the grounds. This site was the residence and working place of the President of the Republic of Vietnam. The space has 3 floors, 2 mezzanines, 1 terrace, 1 ground floor, and 1 basement. The facility’s total space is 20,000sq.m divided among 95 rooms. Each room has its own function and is constructed and decorated to meet the particular purpose. After 1975, some of the main building’s chambers continued to be used. The rest have been left for serving tourism.
In addition to the main building, at the left corner of the Palace grounds (on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street side), there is an octagonal pavilion 4m in diameter. Built atop an earthen mound, the pavilion, with traditional style arched roof and no walls, provides an ideal place for fresh air and relaxation.
The grounds enjoy fresh green grass lawns, gardens of historic trees, a host of ornamental plants, and 4 tennis courts located behind the main building.