Excerpt: Đạo Mẫu Museum by ARB Architects illustrates the use of clay tiles in an innovative manner to create an architecture that is both separate and harmonious with the local surroundings. Through this project, the clay tiles from hundreds of old houses are preserved and transformed into a new life instead of being discarded. The material continues to embark on a new journey, a journey that cohesively preserves the inherent beliefs of the nation.
[Text as submitted by architect] Through this project, as a Vietnamese folk artist, the investor wishes to preserve the enduring values of Đạo Mẫu, which is an inherent belief of the Vietnamese people throughout generations and has remained resilient to this day.
The project is nestled within the enchanting embrace of a quaint village near the capital city of Hanoi. Spanning across an expansive area of approximately 5,000 square metres, the site is filled with a 50-year-old orchard including various fruit trees, pine trees, and bonsai trees. Currently, there is a humble house on the site where the owner used to seek solace for weekends getaway.
Both, the team of architects and the homeowner, unanimously agreed to preserve everything that is currently “presence on the ground”, including all the trees rooted in the garden, the old house, the fence, and the gate pillars. However, elements that are “not touching the ground”, such as the gate wings, were replaced, and the bonsai trees planted in pots were sold to bonsai enthusiasts. Additionally, the mezzanine of the old house was dismantled to transform the space into a larger area dedicated to exhibiting paintings depicting Đạo Mẫu.
New functional blocks, comprising accommodation areas, gallery and kitchen, are thoughtfully arranged around the old house, which has been transformed into a display area for artefacts related to Đạo Mẫu.
The aim is to minimise the need to relocate the existing trees. From the neighbouring street, the ancient orchard seems to be framed and carefully concealed behind the gate, creating an architecture that is both separate and harmonious with the local surroundings.
The dominant material used in this project is traditional clay tiles, which the homeowner had collected from hundreds of old and historic houses in the nearby areas. The ongoing urbanisation has significantly impacted the rural villages, resulting in a new appearance of village architecture.
Many families no longer wish to maintain the traditional tiled roof structures of the past. Instead, they opt for more modern and durable constructions. This very phenomenon has influenced the desire to preserve the old form through contemporary architecture by the design team and project investor.
“The idea of using old tiles comes from my memories every time I watch a votive dance ceremony. I remember the sacred feeling through the smoke of incense, through the afternoon light that penetrates deeply into the interiors of the tiled roofs of the temples. Standing from a distance, I can fully admire the architectural lines formed by the low-pitched roofs, resembling a gracefully hanging curtain where the sounds of musical instruments, dance movements, the garments of mediums, and the gestures of offering converge harmoniously within a frame.”
– Nguyễn Hà / ARB Architects
Through the Đạo Mẫu museum, the clay tiles from hundreds of old houses are preserved and transformed in a new life instead of being discarded. The material continues to embark on a new journey, a journey that cohesively preserves the inherent beliefs of the nation.