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New secular building styles were introduced to Luang Prabang between 1893 and 1907 as the French gradually assumed administrative control of Laos. In constructing administrative buildings and houses, the French introduced European construction techniques and materials. For instance, the restriction on the use of bricks, which were previously used only for temples was lifted. The French, however, did not merely transplant European styles into Luang Prabang. Instead, they employed styles developed in Vietnam and produced designs inspired by vernacular temple architecture and secular wooden structures that were better suited to the warm and humid Laotian climate.

As a result, a new Laotian architectural style emerged, based on indigenous domestic architecture but freely incorporating French and Vietnamese design elements along with European and Chinese technical innovations. The Laotian royalty and aristocracy, who had previously lived in wooden houses, had their new masonry residences constructed in this style. The former Royal Palace, which today houses the Luang Prabang National Museum, was built between 1904 and 1909 and serves as a fine example of the French-inspired architecture that was popular at that time.

The French introduced some elements of Chinese architecture and urbanism indirectly. To execute French public works, skilled Vietnamese laborers were imported. These laborers settled near the foot of the peninsula and built their own commercial quarters which were brick, with living accommodation on the upper floors. All of these architectural styles can still be seen today in Luang Prabang.

Villa Xieng Mouane
Footpaths lead back from the commercial main drag into a little  oasis of palm-shaded calm around the Villa Xieng Mouane, an authentic traditional longhouse on tree-trunk stilts that is now partly used as an occasional exhibition centre.

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