A garden house in Hue (Source: khamphahue.com.vn)
Thua Thien-Hue (VNA) – Up to 40 garden houses in the imperial capital city of Hue will be restored under a Thua Thien-Hue provincial People’s Committee project.

Of the total, 14 houses will be entitled to restoration in 2016. Each will receive from 400-700 million VND for the work.

However, the project has failed to draw the interest of homeowners who said the funds are too low to cover the restoration, and upgrading one item may affect others.

The proceeds brought in from garden house tourism are outweighed by the huge land tax, they said.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Phan Ngoc Tho said, Thua Thien-Hue will work harder to raise homeowners’ awareness of the value of garden houses while further developing garden house tourism.

To be a Hue-style garden house, a home must have two distinct elements: a nha ruong (Hue-style wooden house with beams and pillars), and surrounding gardens. They have yards in both the front and back. In the front yard a decorated wall or rock structure blocks bad luck and harmful winds from entering the house through its main door. Between the wall and the front hallway lie pots of flowers, a fish tank or pond and bonsai trees.

A driveway running from the main entrance gate connects the front yard with the outside road.

The backyard serves as a space for housework and food preparation. The house, front yard, back yard and entry way are in a shape that preserves a fengshui structure.

There are often four gardens surrounding the house. Behind the backyard is a garden plot for herbs and vegetables. A small plot linked to front yard often has flowers. The left and right gardens are for perennial fruit trees such as guava, grapefruit, star fruit, peach and areca.

The structure and flora are organised to create a comfortable, safe ambience for the owners, who were often royal family members, feudal mandarins or wealthy people like traders, herbal physicists and tailors.

At the end of the feudal era in 1945, Hue had 7,178 garden houses. But only 150 are still standing in their original shapes, according to a survey conducted by local authorities in the early 2000s.

There are now 4,228 garden houses, each covering from 400-600 sq.m in 25 wards and communes of Hue city.-VNA