This archive is being presented at the 'ART, MATERIALITY AND REPRESENTATION' conference held by the Royal Anthropogical Institute, in collaboartion with The Department Of Africa, Oceania And The Americas Of The British Museum And The Department Of Anthropology At SOAS. The conference takes place on the 1, 2, 3rd June 2018.


Welcome to 'An Urban Archive of District 4, Ho Chi Minh City'. This page introduces you to a small selection of the images contained in this archive. Should you wish to conduct your own exploration of this archive use the navigation links above. 

The 'Exhibitons' section contains curated exhibitions exploring the work contained in this archive, under differing topics. The first exhibition is an introduction to the archive, and the work of each member of the research team.

A set of tags can be found here to help you start to explore the archive.

This archive is a little different from most archival projects. Central to its function is the role of creative observation. This is an observational process, that occurs after the primary observational and recording process, which is the visit to the hems. So our archive is not so much a documentary of the hems, but one that responds to what we look at in the studio. This is a reflection on what we see and what we have experienced. The images below show the type of work each researcher has been conducting.

Busy Hem


This archive is a collaborative research project between the School of Communication & Design and the Library RMIT University Vietnam, with funding through the Research Office, RMIT University, Vietnam. The archive is a collection of materials that have been captured and manipulated to document the various events within the Hems [Alleyways] of District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, using video, photography, audio recordings, drawing and mixed reality technology. This archive should be understood as a creative archive. It is an ongoing collection of audio visual material is processed using various digital tools. Alongside this the raw captured data also forms a key component of the archive. Together this forms a factual and creative understanding of these unique spaces.



This archive primarily came about through a research project that focused on the District 4 Hems as an urban environment that offers a specific glimpse into urban living in the 21st Century in Ho Chi Minh City. This urban investigation is considered critical as the city rapidly undergoes redevelopment. These unique urban spaces offer an insight into not just urban living conditions but also an insight into a cultural environment that is resilient and resourceful. The value of this archive is defined through its factual and creative functions. These two functions at as a record of what has been and what can be.

Audio Translation


Since September 2016 a group of RMIT University Vietnam researchers and research assistants, have made many visits to a group of Hems in Ward 14, District 4. Their interest, as creative practitioners, was to record different aspects of this group of hems. The material captured included audio, photographic, video and audio based material. The researchers then have used the material for creative outputs that celebrate the uniqueness of the spaces, and hopefully help define these spaces as culturally critical, in the ‘egoless’ city.


Red chair, blue wall


Research team

Andy Stiff

Andy Stiff is a practitioner of digital film and a lecturer at  RMIT in Vietnam, with a particular focus on architecture and urbanism. He has a BA Hons Fine Art and an MSc and has been the research coordinator of the School of Communications and Design at RMIT in Vietnam. His current PhD research is focused on the following question: ‘Intimate of Spaces: An archive of creative observation.’ This is being researched through the unique urban environments of HCMC, including the hems of District 4.

Desiree Calvo Grunewald

Desiree is a media and communications lecturer at  RMIT in Vietnam with a broad background in communications design. Her graduate studies at the University of Salamanca include Design and Advertising, Audiovisual Communication, European Cultural Studies and International Relations Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Thierry Bernard

Thierry is a sound and multimedia designer, and lecturer at RMIT in Vietnam with an expertise in digital sound design and digital media, which he teaches in the bachelor of Design degree. He holds a Master of Fine Art at the Ecole Superieur in Grenoble and a post-master diploma from Le Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts

 Loic Bertrand Chichester

Loic is a photographer and film designer, and lecturer at RMIT in Vietnam and teaches in the bachelor of design program, focusing on photography and multimedia. He has a Master of Art and Aesthetics in Photography from the University of Paris 8-St Denis and a Bachelor Degree specialising in American Culture and Cinema at Paris 10-Nanterre University.

 Ondris Pui Hsiao Hui

Ondris  is a multimedia designer and lecturer at RMIT in Vietnam and teaches in the bachelor of design program, focusing on multimedia and mixed reality, where he also leads the Mixed Reality Laboratory . He has a Master of Multimedia from the University of Sydney and Bachelor of Graphic Design, Charles Sturt University.

Tran Thi Thao Nguyen

Nguyen is a multimedia designer and research assistant at RMIT in Vietnam. She is specialized in archive and project administration. She has a Bachelor of Design (Digital Media)

Truong Thanh Hung

Hung is a multimedia designer and research assistant at RMIT in Vietnam. He is specialized in AR/VR research. He has a Bachelor of Design (Digital Media)


Library team

Clare O’Dwyer

Clare is the Head of Library & Student Academic Success Services at RMIT University Vietnam.  Clare is also a RMIT Business Alumni. Prior to joining RMIT University Vietnam, Clare was the National Librarian at the Fair Work Commission based in Melbourne.  This role managed the employment law court library, records and the Richard Kirby Archive.  This provided an opportunity to combine her law librarianship skills with her Masters degree in Arts Management.

Clare has had  a variety of roles in her career that have included being the Business and Law Faculty Librarian at Deakin University, a Business Analyst for BHP Petroleum, a Business Analyst for Ernst & Young, a Law Librarian in both Victorian and Federal courts and a Business Librarian for the Dairy Industry. Clare strongly believes that Librarians have transforming, enriched and sustainable global careers.   

Do Van Chau

Chau is the Digital Services Librarian at RMIT Vietnam Library. He has background in Digital library and Information management. He’s leading various library digital projects that assist learning and teaching, research activities at RMIT Vietnam Library such as Vietnamese Contemporary Art Collection, Open Educational Resource Guide, Research Data management.

Nguyen Ngoc Doan Trang

Trang is a liaison librarian at School of Information and Technology. She has had much experience in IT application in library and archive. She’s involved in many digital projects in the Library.