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Color in Hanoi electrical boxes

A group of young artists have given the city a beautiful touch

Anna Chu

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You can see them dotted throughout Hanoi. What were previously dirty, bland electrical boxes covered in cheap advertising now flash with color and the delicate hand of an artist’s brush. They are longer necessary but ugly examples of municipal works but bona fide pieces of street art adding a subtle touch of dazzle to the nation’s capital.

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Young people throughout Vietnam are known for their sometimes crazy creativity, and those based in Hanoi are no different. A young art troupe have now painted the city’s street side electric boxes with classic and beautiful scenes of Vietnamese life: lotus flowers, spring blossoms, market scenes and old Hanoi memories, all in a riot of vibrant pinks, yellows and blues, adding considerable charm to the city’s buzzing streets. This is a far cry fro regular graffiti.

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Once a relatively little known Asian capital, Hanoi is continuing to make waves across the continent as both a place to live and travel to. No doubt the arrival of F1 in April will only add to its status as a happening city on the global map

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The vast bulk of the joyful electric boxes are in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District, something of a cultural center of the capital, where many domestic and international tourists come to explore, visit and enjoy the beauty of this ancient city that is more than 1,000 years old.

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With this in mind Hoan Kiem is always looking to spruce up its image, whether through pedestrianizing large areas or renovating its lake, ancient streets and beautiful landscape. About 70 of the pimped up electrical boxes can be found across Hoan Kiem’s various streets and lanes: eye-catching, vivid and enhancing the beauty of the city with a distinctly Vietnamese touch.

“Every citizen needs to raise the awareness of environmental protection, eliminate advertisements on electrical booths, and give the capital a sophisticated and beautiful look.”

The “Colors of Hanoi” project was organized by Hanoi Art Space artist group, which aside from the electrical boxes have also assisted in cleaning roads, pavements, manhole covers and improving trash collection across the district.

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The Hoan Kiem District People’s Committee gave the go ahead for the project along the streets of Trang Thi, Hang Khay and Trang Tien back in the summer of 2018, are still considering expanding to much larger areas of the city.

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“Facing the situation that electric kiosks were become more and more unclear and unhygienic due to the degradation over the years, especially after the attack of miscellaneous advertising, we wanted to renovate and bring street art closer to the people of Hanoi,” Le Lan Nhi, project leader of “Colors of Hanoi,” told Tai Nguyen Moi Truong magazine. “Every citizen needs to raise the awareness of environmental protection, eliminate advertisements on electrical booths, and give the capital a sophisticated and beautiful look.”

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A few people have questioned the value and safety of conducting this kind of art work on electrical boxes. While they undoubtedly look beautiful and are a unique addition to Hanoi, the role of electrical boxes (substations) is too reduce and control the distribution of electricity to each household, and many have dubbed them “slow-explosive bombs” as if there is a short-circuit they could explode, so potentially not the kind of thing you should be taking selfies with

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In December 2016, a street in Ha Dong Hanoi heard a loud bang when an electrical box exploded and swallowed a man in a wheelchair who was sitting just one meter from the electrical box. His wife immediately called for help but alas it was too late and he died. So bear in mind when visiting these cute electrical boxes that it might not be worth getting too close. Approach with caution, and do not tamper with them, touch with them or play with them. Nevertheless, enjoy them from afar and we will think you will find the artwork of these young artists an absolutely stunning addition the city.

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