|Hai Chau Communal House in Hai Chau District, Da Nang City, central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.|
Hai Chau Communal House was the site where residents of Hai Chau Village, Tinh Gia District, central Thanh Hoa Province established a new settlement in the late 15th century. Most residents in the area are hairdressers (one located within an old French villa), coffee sellers, mechanics, seamsters, and food vendors.
Explaining the idea of a "living museum", Phung Phu Phong, deputy director of Da Nang Construction Department, said since urbanization leaves many neighborhoods looking exactly the same, the city's Singaporean consultant proposed to preserve certain unique cultural elements of the city.
Phong said the "living museums" includes old urban areas with distinguished local lifestyles, a concept familiar to those of many European and Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
Vo Thi Thu Van, 58, a coffee maker at the shop at 79 Hoang Dieu Street, a French villa built in 1911, was happy when she heard the city would keep this urban area intact.
"The shop only operates on the front porch and sidewalk of the house, about 40 square meters, but is always crowded since many people want to sit under the Bougainvillea tree. My family lives inside. We have been in operation for many years," she said.
Over the past 100 years, the villa has only had its tiles changed and an iron roof installed for customers to sit under. The cafe opened after national reunification in 1975.
Born and raised on Hoang Dieu Street, Van remembers the area had formerly been smaller. Many homes built here over the years were clad in washed stones, creating a unique aesthetic.
However, as property prices and rental costs have soared along with rapid urbanization, many residents have hired out their premises for commercial purposes.
The coffee shop at 79 Hoang Dieu Street, Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.
Phong said Da Nang would limit the construction of tall buildings in this "living museum" to avoid breaking the landscape and help maintain the traditional local lifestyle.
Hai Chau Communal House would also be expanded while more trees are planted and the sidewalks resurfaced.
Huynh Dinh Quoc Thien, director of the Da Nang Museum, said the idea of a "living museum" would help create a modern urban area bearing an inheritance from past, present and future.
According to Thien, aside from Hai Chau Communal House, other attractions include the Cathedral Church of Da Nang, French Town Hall, a Cham sculpture museum, Dien Hai Citadel, alongside Han and Con markets.
"These are the heritage marks of over 100 years, a unique ‘living museum’ at the heart of the city," Thien added.