|French-style villa at No 26 Lê Lợi Street, Huế City, which was to be demolished, will be relocated to another site. Photos tienphong.vn
THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — An ancient French-style villa in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province will be relocated to a new site instead of being destroyed to make way for a mall and hotel complex.
Nguyễn Văn Cư, from HCM City, will be in charge of the big move.
Cư, who is nicknamed ‘Aladdin’ for his ability to move big buildings, is expected to move the villa, currently at 26 Lê Lợi Street in Huế City, to a vacant lot near the Hương River.
The current site of the building will be developed into a commercial area, according to the municipal authorities.
Cư, in an interview with Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper, said it was a complicated job to relocate such an old building but he would ensure the work is completed.
|The villa was not named on a list of 27 buildings in need of preservation, but the provincial leaders decided to relocate the building. — Photo tienphong.vn
"In French architecture, the base of the buildings is not concrete like others but mostly made of bricks. It causes technical difficulties in moving it, especially as it is more than 100 years old," Cư was quoted as saying.
"Furthermore, it is not simply a case of shifting it across Lê Lợi Street but we must rotate it by 90 degrees. I will try my best to succeed in my mission," he said.
The villa was formerly the headquarters of the provincial Union of Literature and Art Associations. The villa, built in the early 20th century, has beautiful and sophisticated French-style architecture, and is now over 100 years old.
Since 1975, the venue received visits of famed local artists including musicians Trần Hoàn, Văn Cao, Trịnh Công Sơn and Trần Hữu Pháp as well as writers and poets Thanh Hải, Nguyễn Khoa Điềm, Tô Nhuận Vỹ, Trần Thùy Mai, Hải Bằng, Võ Quê and Trần Vàng Sao.
Painters Bửu Chỉ, Vĩnh Phối and Đinh Cường also considered it their favourite destination in Huế.
In addition, this is also the place where many famous researchers, critics, and international poets came to exchange cultural activities.
|Villa No 26 Lê Lợi Street was repaired once but its typical French features have remained intact. — Photo tienphong,vn
The villa was repaired in 2000, but the exterior still retains its original appearance with decorations of fleur-de-lis, the unique flower on the roof in Huế's old French villas.
In May 2018, the provincial People's Committee issued a list of 27 typical French-style buildings in Huế City, calling for investment to preserve, embellish and promote the values of the constructions, but the villa at No 26 Lê Lợi was not included.
Later on, the committee, in an official dispatch, agreed to allow Logi 3 Communications Infrastructure and Services Joint Stock Company to build a hotel, mall and commercial services complex at the site.
|A corner in the villa. — Photo tienphong.vn
Many intellectuals and artists strongly disagreed with the decision to demolish an ancient French villa to build a hotel.
Speaking with the media, Chairman of the People's Committee Nguyễn Văn Phương said: "There were a number of plans discussed to handle the villa at No 26 Lê Lợi. Although it is not on the list for preservation, provincial leaders have decided to save the villa with a desire to keep one of Huế's beautiful images in the process of development for the future."
|French decorative design of fleur-de-lis, the unique flower, seen on the roof of the villa No 26 Lê Lợi Street. — Photo tienphong.vn
The decision to relocate the French mansion has been applauded by local residents and artists.
Writer Hồ Đăng Thanh Ngọc, chairman of the Union of Literature and Art Associations, said it was the correct decision by the leaders of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province.
"It is a construction characterised by French colonial architecture, including indigenous architecture. It is an indispensable part of the landscape along the most beautiful Lê Lợi Street in Huế," said Ngọc.
"The plan to move the villa to another location instead of demolishing is good news. It will be recognised and supported by people." — VNS