Following a decision issued last month to preserve the ancient villa, authorities have invited relocation guru Nguyen Van Cu, dubbed ‘a lamp genie,’ to uproot and move the two-story mansion at 26 Le Loi Street, Hue City, which is the provicial capital, to a new place.

The edifice will be relocated to 1 Pham Hong Thai Street, opposite its present location, according to a recent recommendation of local architect Ho Viet Vinh,

At the new venue, the mansion will join other old buildings to form a chain of French architectural works alongside the Huong River, Vinh said.

Another option, floated by other agencies, is to rebuild the mansion after relocation by dismantling the property and then re-creating its archetype, making use of its old materials that remain usable.  

After a site survey, the ‘lamp genie,’ who successfully lifted up a 1,500-ton villa in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 by two meters in 2020, said he is capable of moving this villa to the new location. 

Cu added he had once relocated buildings several hundred years older than this villa.

Preparations are underway for the mansion to be relocated by the ‘lamp genie,’ Vinh said.  

After the relocation, the site at 26 Le Loi Street would be allocated to investors to develop a hotel project.

The villa was previously used as the head office of the Thua Thien-Hue Union of Literature and Arts Associations. 

When hearing that the provincial authorities decided to preserve the villa, Ho Dang Thanh Ngoc, the union president, said that he, along with many other Hue artists and researchers, felt truly happy.

In 2018, many writers and artists in Hue expressed their displeasure when they heard that this villa would be demolished to make room for a hotel.

In the same year, the Thua Thien-Hue administration announced a list of 27 typical French architectural works in the area and called for investments to preserve them, but the mansion was not included in the list.

On March 13 this year, the province People’s Committee decided to preserve the old French villa instead of pulling it down as previously planned, and this U-turn has been lauded by cultural researchers and local communities, according to Van Hoa Online.

“We consider this mansion a destination in Hue and will try to preserve it,” Hoang Hai Minh, deputy chairman of the Thua Thien-Hue administration, affirmed.

Commenting on the decision, Ngoc said “this is a proper step to prove Hue is a heritage city.”

Although the villa is not in the said list, it is still an ancient building remaining intact at present, contributing to the French architectural fund in the ancient imperial capital, Ngoc added.

The preservation of the villa means the maintenance of Hue’s typical old architectural values, which can be reasonably tapped to serve local tourism development, according to Van Hoa Online.

Built in the early 20th century, the edifice boasts beautiful and unique architecture features and is now over 100 years old.

It was once a haunt of many famous writers and artists in Hue after 1975, according to Thua Thien Hue Online.   

The building is known as ‘the common house of Hue artists’ as it had witnessed many ups and downs in the lives of many famed Vietnamese musicians, poets, writers, and painters, Ngoc said.

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