Hanoi has gone halfway to recovering the architectural space of Lan Ong street, which specialises in selling Vietnamese traditional medicine and is one of the few streets in the capital that has maintained its time-honoured trade.

The street is named after Hai Thuong Lan Ong - pseudonym of Le Huu Trac (1720-1791), a famous physician in Vietnam’s history.

Before the 20th century, the street bore the name of Phuc Kien, since a majority of residents here came from China’s Fujian province, which is translated as ‘Phuc Kien’ in Vietnamese.

In 1979, almost all people of Chinese origin returned to their homeland, but traces of the Chinese culture can still be found on houses on the street.

The diversity of culture throughout history has adorned Lan Ong street with a wide range of architectural styles, from houses with Vietnam’s traditional features to those combining both Vietnamese and Chinese styles or bearing western styles from the colonial period.

However, due to the reported negligence of architecture management, new structures have mushroomed with balconies and roofs expanded spontaneously.

Added to that, local residents have taken advantage of the space in front of their houses for business activities, deteriorating the overall appearance of the street.

To restore the front of houses to their original look, a project funded with nearly 25 billion VND (1.2 million USD) from the State budget is being carried out on the 120-metre street.

Lighting and drainage systems along with advertising boards will also be rearranged after the restoration is completed.

Thai Duy Anh, a project manager from the Management Board of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, said the project has improved public awareness of cultural and social values of Lan Ong street’s architectural space and encouraged them to engage in the preservation.

Thai Thi Van, who lives at No.39, received more than 50 million VND (nearly 2,400 USD) to repair the interior and exterior of her house, and it is now ready for selling traditional medicine.

She said she is very happy as the project has helped improve her house and the whole street as well.

Meanwhile, house No.30 of Vu Thi Minh has regained its Vietnamese traditional features, and the first floor is also reserved for selling medicine.

The house is considered as a highlight of the street as the time-honoured style is in harmony with the surrounding space.

During the restoration, some difficulties have arisen due to drastic architectural changes and high population density. However, with the determination and support of local residents, the project is proving effective.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter has a history stretching back 2,000 years and retains the street original layout and architecture once common in the capital.-VNA