Culture Culture

03/04/2020 - 08:05

Saving Hue’s ancient houses - nha ruong

Hue Imperial Capital is home to many typical feudal architectural forms of Vietnam. The Royal Palace is the upgrade in scale and elegance from the roots of Hue traditional ruong houses.

Hue’s nha ruong values require urgent conservation efforts 

Many garden houses are supported in restoration and repair works. Photo: TH

Compared to the wooden houses in the North, Hue ruong houses are usually slender with small pillars and straight, thin roofs. The roofs are adorned with various types of patterns according to the motifs of dragonification or stylized flowers and leaves on the roof line or corners. There are absolutely no kinds of sharply curved upward blade motifs like in the North.

A unique feature of nha ruong in Hue is the art of carving and inlay on architecture. The talent of the Northern craftsmen combined with the soul of Mount Ngu and the Huong River to turn inanimate logs and wood into a type of architecture with a deep and sophisticated soul. 

Kings and the royal family preferred living in nha ruong. Mandarins also lived in nha ruong. Generations after generations of Hue people lived in nha ruong so these ancient houses have become an inseparable part of Hue's historical and cultural heritage.

However, hundreds of years of coexistence with rain, sunshine and flood have taken a great toll on these ancient houses. Most of the owners of the houses do not have enough means to repair and renovate, so they run the risk of getting damaged. This has led to many owners having to dismantle the houses to build a new modern architecture.

In order to preserve and promote the value of Hue’s nha ruong, on April 25, 2015, the Provincial People's Council issued a Resolution on the ratification of the Project "Supporting policy to protect and promote the value of typical Hue garden houses". The overall objective of the resolution was to support people to preserve the traditional cultural identity, contribute to improving the image value of Hue ancient capital, and promote the economic efficiency of the typical Hue garden houses heritage.

Subsequently, the Provincial People's Committee issued Decision No. 36/2015 / QD-UBND "Promulgating the Regulation on management, protection and promotion of typical Hue garden houses". Accordingly, it will support the restoration of 18 garden houses in Hue and 25 garden houses in Phuoc Tich ancient village (Phong Dien district).

Saving many degrading houses

Mr. Ho Xuan Doanh's garden house at 51 Thanh Nghi, Thuy Bieu Ward was classified as a grade 1 garden house and was severely damaged. The project approved the support of VND 697,855,000 for repair. After 3 months of reconstruction of all the roof tiles, decking, eaves edge, tie-beam, etc., from April to July 2017, this house was restored.

Mr. Doanh said: "I am very happy and grateful to the province, because without such support, it would be difficult for our family to invest in restoration to bring about the best appearance of the house as today."

In Hue city, from 2015 to March 2020, 10 out of 18 garden houses participating in the project have been supported with the restoration cost of over VND 5.4 billion. The timely support of restoration costs has revitalized some seemingly lost houses.

In Phuoc Tich ancient village, the seriously degraded nha ruong of Mr. Ho Van Thuyen has put on a new look since 2019. Prior to this, when looking at this rotting moss house, no one thought that it could be restored. The ragged frame of the ancient house had to put on shabby corrugated iron roof, broken tie-beams, and old broken door frames.

Mr. Nguyen Vu, Director of the Management Board of Architectural Monuments of the Phuoc Tich ancient village said: The construction unit was rather daunted when receiving this project. However, because of their love for the village, they gave their best efforts and successfully restored it. Now the house has been transformed with a brand new look.  

The Phuoc Tich ancient village has 25/26 houses participating in the project, including 14 houses in category I, 9 houses in category II, and 3 houses in category III. In 2017, the government supported over VND 1.9 billion to renovate 3 houses; in 2018, over VND 5.95 billion to renovate 8 houses; in 2019, nearly VND 5.3 billion to restore 9 houses. In 2020, it is proposed that the government support over 2 billion dong in reconstructing 3 houses, including 1 house in category I.

The project "Supporting policy to protect and promote the value of typical Hue garden houses" has brought a very clear effect: many Hue ruong houses have been saved. In particular, the Phuoc Tich ancient village is almost completely revived thanks to this project.

Mr. Hoang Van Thai, Vice Chairman of Phong Dien District People's Committee said: “The project has had a timely and effective impact in combating heritage degradation in Phuoc Tich ancient village; meeting the needs and aspirations of the villagers of this 500-year-old village”.

However, in Hue city, the implementation of the project is still difficult. The main problem is ownership. Most of the houses are co-owned and some people living in garden houses have no rights to decide whether to join the project or not. Many owners are afraid of participating for fear that they will not be free to manage their house architecture in the future. Some owners did not wish to participate due to the large repair cost, while the project only provided the highest support of VND 700 million ... Therefore, Hue City has only spent VND 5.2 billion out of the allocated 9.3 billion VND for the project of supporting the restoration of garden houses.

Hope for green promotion

In addition to the restoration and protection of garden houses, the promotion of their value is one issue that the Resolution of the Provincial People's Council requires when ratifying the Project "Supporting policy to protect and promote the value of typical Hue garden houses ".

In Hue City, by March 2020, 9 garden houses have participated in the project of organizing tourism business and serving tourists. Among them, 3 garden houses are offering homestay accommodation.

Mr. Tran Song, Vice Chairman of Hue City People's Committee, said that some restored garden houses which organize tourism and services are operating with revenue of VND 30-90 million/month.

Phuoc Tich ancient village is in the process of completing the village's basic infrastructure. There will then be long-term plans to promote the value of the ancient village. There are currently 14 out of 26 houses offering garden house tours.

Story: Thanh Ngoc