The Hanoitimes - Dong Lac communal house at no.38A in Hang Dao street of Hanoi formerly worshipped the gods of Cao Son, Linh Lang, Bach Ma and offered silk yem under the Le dynasty in the 17th century. Through ups and downs, this place becomes a typical cultural tourist spot in the Old Quarter nowadays.
The house is located on the plot of land of a mouse's tail shape, getting narrower from the outside to the inside. If the front is 6m wide, the back width is 1.1m wide, the total area of the plot is 188.9m2. The layout is based on that of the typical traditional tube house in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
The architectural space of the communal house is divided into layers of houses, with a backyard in between for ventilation and natural light. This feature is also the unique of the Old Quarter’s architecture to adapt to climate conditions.
Still preserved in the communal house is the stone inscription on the wall carved in the year of Tu Duc Binh Thin (1856) that records the establishment of the communal house in the Le dynasty (17th century). The stele reads: "The spacious communal market house offering silk yem was built under the the Le dynasty by the owner Nguyen Cong Trung and his wife Nguyen Thi Tu Thiet. Due to the war, the communal house was destroyed. Later on, Ha Dinh Nguyen Canh The took responsibility for the restoration of the communal house and had Tran Hung Tai and Nguyen Ba Lan supervise the construction. In Dong Lac guild, a person named Duong Nghia Hop who is fond of charity donated 100 zinc coins to spend on the public work. Thinking of repaying kindness as people said “he gives me peaches, I repay him with plums”, we together elected his second son who is Luong Van Tin with courtesy name Doan Tai, literary name Nha Giang, to be worshipped in the communal house to express our sincerity and consideration and carved this on the stele to be recorded from generation to generation.”
Products displayed at Hanoia cultural space, which are talented combination of artisans from Hanoi and Europe
This is a very important relic, a valuable record, which helps us to know the history of the establishment and existence of the communal house and the silk yem market in the Le dynasty. Later on, in the Nguyen dynasty, the communal house was renovated into a women's clothing trading venue.
In 2000, Hanoi and the French city of Toulouse chose this communal house for restoration and preservation. In 2004, the communal house was classified by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as a national historical and cultural relic. The restoration was conducted using a combination of traditional construction techniques and modern restoration methods.
At present, at Dong Lac communal house is accommodating the Hanoia cultural space. This is a monthly series of programs initiated by the lacquer brand Hanoia aiming to promote artistic exchange, by which it’s possible to awaken emotions, open up ideas for life and relaxation.
Accordingly, Hanoia Culture Space monthly seminar series themed around cultural and lifestyle discussion which are held on the second Friday afternoon of every month with the guests who are prestigious scholars, researchers, artists.
Coming to the communal house, visitors see unique artifacts of the traditional craft villages of Hanoi and Vietnam. Each artifact on display tells its own story and which is a combination of talented hands and minds of the best artisans from Hanoi and other parts of the country as well as designers from Europe who have studied and showed passion to the Vietnamese culture.
In the midst of the bustling commercial street, Dong Lac communal house look like “a rest” among noise “high tones” of the modern city. Entering the space of the communal house will take us back to a quiet ancient world with a unique artistic and architectural style.