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Man’s painstakingly detailed scale model a homage to traditional Vietnamese architecture

Thursday, April 01, 2021, 11:24 GMT+7
Man’s painstakingly detailed scale model a homage to traditional Vietnamese architecture
Phan Lac Hung examines the detail of his miniature of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A countryside dweller who yearns to capture the sense of belonging he felt for his hometown, Phan Lac Hung, a carpenter from Huu Bang Village in Hanoi’s Thach That District, has spent five years replicating the traditional architecture of his local communal house in an ambitious miniature project.

Growing up in a family of carpenters, Hung picked up the trade from a tender age.

As he turns 67 this year, Hung has stacked up over 50 years of experience in artisan woodwork.

He has lived his whole life in Huu Bang Village, situated in the suburbs of Hanoi.

A textbook example of how a northern Vietnamese rural community looks and feels, Huu Bang Village channels its ethos through the communal house, a magnificent structure that dates back over 350 years.

The edifice’s rich history and intricate designs have fascinated Hung for as long as he could remember, and to downsize it to a miniature using his craft has been an idea constantly lurking at the back of his mind.

“I have always been proud of my hometown for its preservation of such a great structure like this communal house," Hung said.

"It has witnessed all ups and downs of the village.

“For that reason, I have been wanting to work on the miniature version of our communal house.”

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

The yearning pushed Hung to go to great lengths to research the design of this peculiar structure.

Hung spent half an hour walking around the communal house every morning to scrutinize and take photos of its most minute details before pondering over his miniature interpretation.

For this particular project, Hung decided to go without a master design: he drew and planned every next step as things went along.

“I had many sleepless nights chewing over the implementation of this miniature, as it is such a grand project with sophisticated details," Hung recalled.

“Scaling down the communal house into a petite model was such a challenge, not to mention the work to replicate the patterns, which cost me heaps of time.”

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

In the end, the passion project took Hung a total of five years, with six to eight hours of work per day, to complete.

As a one-man team, Hung did not mind spending time perfecting the most nominal details, from wood pieces used as roofing, to the woodworking joints on the structural columns, the carved window designs that resemble the Chinese word for 'longevity,' and even the minuscule trees that surround the premises.

“I made around 100,000 roofing tiles, but only used 70,000 for the miniature," Hung recounted.

"I could only make around 1,500 per day, so it took two months for just the roofing tiles.”

His tenacity and commitment transcended to something special -- a 1:1,000 wooden replica of Huu Bang Village’s communal house, which weighs 60 kilograms and is considered the smallest communal house miniature in Vietnam.

According to Hung, the project is meant to be a time capsule that preserves that beauty of traditional Vietnamese architecture, one that can survive the test of time and be passed down to the next generation of Vietnamese people.

“People offered me billions of Vietnamese dong [VND1 billion = US$43,000] for the model, but I’m not looking to sell," he said.

“I wish to pass this down to my descendants to educate them about the time-honored values of Vietnamese culture.”

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the drum set in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the drum set in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the front yard in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the front yard in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the house in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the house in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the roof in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of the Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Details on the roof in Phan Lac Hung’s scale model of Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Huu Bang Village’s Communal House in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Huu Bang Village’s communal house in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

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