A typical tourist’s guidebook with plain pictures and information might not leave much of an impression, but paper pop-ups of the landmarks might tempt readers to visit the sites immediately.
At least that’s the goal of Sài Gòn Phố (Sài Gòn Streets), a new pop-up travel book. As the brainchild of four students from the Department of Industrial Arts of Văn Lang University in HCM City, the book aims to introduce foreign visitors to attractive destinations throughout the city.
The idea for the unique guidebook originated from a school project by Đặng Hoài Vũ, Phạm Thị Bích Thảo, Lương Thị Thanh Trúc and Nguyễn Vũ Tuấn Phát.
“We have many things in common: all coming from different provinces to live and study in HCM City, and all impressed by architectural values of buildings of the city on the first day we arrived,” Thảo said. “So the book is also a means for us to preserve our memories about HCM City.”
According to Thảo, the team considered many ways to present their guide, but ultimately decided on a pop-up book to make it more visual and attractive to tourists.
Sài Gòn Phố unveils miniature paper replicas of ten remarkable landmarks in the city, like the Turtle Lake, Sài Gòn Notre-Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office and Bến Thành Market. Each paper pop-up is unique and can be viewed from various angles on the page.
In addition to each illustration, brief introductions are provided on the history of each site in both Vietnamese and English to create convenience for foreign tourists.
Most interestingly, some pop-up features are moveable, like the buses, cars and motor boats, which bring the book to life.
Though pop-up books are popular around the world, it is still a new trend in Việt Nam. In order to create Sài Gòn Phố, Thảo and her team members had to purchase pop-up books from abroad for reference, consult online sources to learn the techniques and find a unique way to fold papers.
It took them two months to finish their project. As it was their first experience, they encountered many challenges along the way, such as preparing the content, drawing the buildings, learning folding techniques and printing the finished product.
In order to make the paper buildings pop up when the page opens and fold properly when the page is turned, they tried various paper-folding techniques. The sizes of the objects and the paper had to be perfect down to the millimetre. In addition, proper glue also plays a crucial role because it must firmly seal the 3D objects to the paper.
According to Thảo, the printing process is important, as well.
“The quality of the paper decides the authenticity of the colours of the original version,” Thảo said. “We tried many kinds of paper and printing ink to choose the best that preserve the colours and original shapes of the pages.
“Most of the (production) stages are done by hand, so they need great meticulousness and skillfulness. We also have to be patient to redo the pages again and again until we have the satisfactory final product.”
Following the school project’s success, 20 Sài Gòn Phố books were created manually for exhibition. The future circulation would depend on the publishing house that agrees to purchase the copyright for the book, Thảo said.
Although the book has not been officially published yet, it received its first positive feedback from the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which selected it as one of eight products that successfully introduce the city to foreign readers.
A pop-up image of the Bình Lợi Bridge