Century-old Hanoi ancestral home lifted atop villa

By Minh Trang   July 4, 2021 | 01:27 am PT
Century-old Hanoi ancestral home lifted atop villa
The Hanoi rooftop ancestral home seen from above. Photo courtesy of Quynh Lien.
A family’s century-old ancestral home is perched on top of a villa in Hanoi’s Bac Tu Liem District.

"This home is more than 100 years old, it is a place filled with many family memories from the lives of my ancestors, parents, children, and even grandchildren," Quynh Lien says.

It is in the Red River Delta architectural style and has two wings.

"My husband and I want to preserve the traditional home but at the same time make changes to create living space for my family."

She does not know the exact year the house was built, but only that her great-grandparents used to live there.

The building is about 100 square meters and situated on a plot of land of more than 500 square meters.

In 2020, when her family of six needed more space, Lien and her husband decided to build a villa with five floors, each 460 square meters, and move the ancestral house to its top.

Since the family of four generations has a tradition of working in art, they wanted the new house to be a mixture of both old and modern.

Lien says: "The house is a work of love, representing family unity and respect for ancestors."

In order to relocate the old house, the family first asked a team of skilled woodworkers to carefully study all its details and components before dismantling every tile, truss and wall.

They took the wooden parts to Quoc Oai village to repair and replace if needed.

The house was put together exactly like it was before some minor details were added. After the owners checked and were satisfied with the result, the house was disassembled again, taken back to the construction site, lifted up to the fourth floor and built once again.

"The two most difficult things were not to break, damage or chip the patterns on the wood and having it restored as close to the original as [possible]," Lien recalls.

Front view of the century old ancestral house. Photo courtesy of Lien.

Front view of the century-old ancestral house. Photo courtesy of Lien.

The owners faced some objections. Some people said the old house should be left on the ground while others said moving it would affect the house's feng shui.

But Lien and her husband persisted.

The process of moving, restoring and reconstructing the old house took about eight months and cost VND1 billion (over $43,000).

The ancestral home has become a place where Lien's relatives, close and distant, gather during holidays, death anniversaries and the Lunar New Year.

It is also used to display religious sculptures and has become the new home for Lien's parents-in-law, enabling them enjoy a modern lifestyle while still being close to their grandchildren.

Around the ancestral home, the family has planted jackfruit, guava, apple, and star fruit trees and created a feng shui pond as if it is on the ground.

Lien says: "Every morning, afternoon and evening, we come here to exercise, plant trees and prune flowers to relax. The feeling is just like being in the old house where we used to live."

A corner of the first floor. Photo courtesy of Lien.

A view of the first floor. Photo courtesy of Lien.

As for the other floors, the first one is a sculpture gallery, with an aquarium, a garden and an area for painting and sculpting. A mezzanine displays paintings by Nguyen Van Chu, Lien's father-in-law.

The second floor houses the office of the sculpture company owned by Lien and her husband. In the third floor is a common living area and three bedrooms. In the fifth floor above the old house is a gym and a technical room.

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