Culture Culture

23/08/2018 - 18:15

Community-Based Restoration of Guol House

After nearly two years of restoration, the Guol House (community activity house) of Co Tu ethnic minority, A Ka Hamlet (Thuong Quang Commune, Nam Dong District) was handed over to the local people.

A Guol House is of crucial importance. It goes hand in hand with the spiritual and cultural life of Co Tu community living along the Truong Son Mountain Range in general and Co Tu ethnic minority in Nam Dong District in particular.

One of the stages of erecting the Guol House by the villagers themselves.

The restoration ofthe Guol House is part of the program "Restoration and Preservation of Traditional Community houses" developed by the University of Kyoto (Japan) in collaboration with the Architecture Faculty of University of Sciences, Hue University and Vietnam National Culture and Art Sub-Institute in Hue. According to the research team, after a period of enquiry, they decided to erect the community cultural house in A Ka Hamlet on account of the degraded original house.

Before embarking on the restoration of the Guol House, the experts exchanged and consulted the community about architectural forms, construction methods, materials, scale and so on to conform to the local reality and preserve the traditional identity. Besides, the plan was made for the people to directly participate in restoring, contributing to the creation of the shape of their compatriots’ cultural space.

Since the restoration, the Guol House in A Ka Hamlet has come into being with Co Tu people’s elation. The shape of the house was built in the style of the traditional stilt house imbued with Co Tu people’s identity with colors, decorative sculpture motifs, a wood-burning stove, a festive yard and so on. These rustic but not less sophisticated and beautiful things were created by talented artisans.

According to Dr. Le Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of Vietnam National Culture and Art Sub-Institute in Hue, after inauguration, the Guol House will be handed over to the local people for management and use under the operating regulation. Apart from the traditional activities, this space is also a site for domestic and foreign tourists to visit. The newly restored Guol House will become a model for other hamlets in Nam Dong District to replicate.

After nearly two years of restoration, the Guol House (community activity house) of Co Tu ethnic minority in A Ka Hamlet (Thuong Quang Commune, Nam Dong District) was completed and put into operation.

In the process of restoration, all stages are recorded, photographed and filmed. Those will be used as the archives or the materials for teaching and propagating the traditional construction techniques of Co Tu ethnic group. "Through this project, we hope that the fine local cultural traits of Co Tu ethnic group will always be preserved. Along with that, Co Tu cultural values are more and more raised, creating the strong belief among the people in the circumstances of the indigenous culture at risk of gradual erosion," emphasized Tan.

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Hong (Ethnology, University of Sciences, Hue University) sets great store by the construction work when implemented in a community-based manner. According to him, the erosion of the peoples’ indigenous knowledge is especially alarming when the village elders and artisans lack the environment, opportunities to show and express, thereby handing their knowledge down to the young generation. More alarmingly, a lot of artisans and village elders, who have the knowledge and experience, grow older, or died. And it is possible to permanently lose the knowledge accumulated for generations if we do not quickly provide the opportunities, environment for them to practice and pass their knowledge down to the young generation.


The project of restoring the Guol House of Co Tu ethnic people in A Ka Hamlet had a total capital of VND 316.8 million; of which VND 125 million was donated by the University of Tokyo, and VND 191.8 million was contributed by local people and construction materials. After the grant was terminated, the contribution from the local people as well as the revenue generated through the programs of visits to the community activity house will be a source of funding for maintenance activity continuation

Unlike many projects in support of the implementation of community house restoration, in the last time, the restoration of the Guol House in A Ka Hamlet was totally community-based. This is the highlight of the project in terms of methodology.

Story and photos: Phan Thanh – Anh Tuan