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Huế Plans to Relocate 100-Year-Old French Mansion to Make Room for Hotel

To make room for new developments, Huế authorities are mulling options to uproot and relocate a century-old villa.

Tuổi Trẻ reports Hoàng Hải Minh, vice chairman of the Thừa Thiên-Huế People’s Committee, as saying the province is considering employing relocation expert Nguyễn Văn Cư to move the historic mansion at 26 Lê Lợi in Huế.

The villa was constructed in the early 20th century in the French colonial style on a lot near the banks of the Hương River, right across from the South Gate of the Imperial City. The building once served as the base of the Huế branch of the Vietnam Alliance of Arts and Literature Associations and played host to many members of the country’s literati in the 1980s and 1990s, including poets Nguyễn Khoa Điềm and Thanh Hải, composers Văn Cao, Trịnh Công Sơn and Trần Hoàn, and more.

Since the alliance moved their office elsewhere, 26 Lê Lợi has sat abandoned, suffering from significant wear and tear. In 2018, Huế authorities issued a list of 27 remarkable French-style architectural relics to be preserved, but curiously excluded 26 Lê Lợi. In the same year, it was announced that the lot at 26, 28 Lê Lợi would be demolished to make room for a tourism-commercial complex, a decision that incensed the local intelligentsia.

While Huế officials have not moved forward with any specific strategy to relocate the decades-old structure, Nguyễn Văn Cư has reportedly done preliminary inspection at the site to devise a relocation plan. Cư, a Saigon-based engineer and founder of a company specialized in tackling subsidence and other residential foundation problems, became well-known after his firm successfully elevated a 1,500-ton villa in Thảo Điền Ward two meters above the ground in 2020.

He told Thanh Niênduring the inspection on March 15 that the relocation of 26 Lê Lợi is “challenging but could be done.” As the old building was constructed with a brick foundation instead of cement, he proposed removing only the above-ground portion and resettling it on the opposite lot. Moreover, as that lot is blocked by a heritage banyan tree, the building will also be rotated 90 degrees. The work is estimated to take five months.

[Photo via Mot The Gioi]

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