Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam’s historical and cultural value along with its unique architecture create a cultural heritage of Hanoi. Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam is also a rare landmark with high potential in urban life and contemporary society. As a result, there are always requirements and challenges in managing the landmark in terms of preserving and restoring. Cultural perception and behavior is the foundation, which leads through all activities at this monument.
Beside the task entrusted, the Centre for Vestige Preservation and Restoration under Ministry of Culture and Information (now it is The Institute of Vestige Preservation under Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism), always puts maximized effort in restoring and enhancing this monument. During the last 20 years, the Institute of Vestige Preservation’s operation has included:
- The building of 82 Doctor’s stelae roofs:
For many decades, 82 Doctor’s steles had been directly impacted by the nature and climate, hence, they needed to be protected to prolong survival. In the 1990s, there were three solutions offered: creating a chemical cover on the stelae’s surfaces, building metal roof and glass panels or building a house outside the stelae. However, using metal and glass could easily lead to the destruction of stone material, hence, building a roof was the most reasonable solution.
Design solution: 82 stelae are built into 2 rows with a roof. However, a common roof would be too big and high compared to Khue Van Cac. The stelae were repositioned, placed higher without changing in order and separated into two rows
In other countries, modern architecture which is contrasts with the surrounding environment is widely used, however, in Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam, this design should be carefully considered.
(Photo: The opening ceremony of stelae pavilions on 28 October 1994)
The construction was completed in 1994, keeping with the traditional architecture of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam.
- Building Thai Hoc courtyard on the ground of original Quoc Tu Giam on the fifth courtyard of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam
(Photo: Thai Hoc Courtyard before 2000)
For more than 40 years, the fifth courtyard remained empty. There were plans to build a Han-Nom archives and an architectural competition was held. While there was strong desire to restore Quoc Tu Giam, however, the resources were not available. The restoration of the Khai Thanh House on the basis of the old foundation and drawings seemed more feasible. In the late 1990s, the idea of building a new building with new functions was introduced based on the mission of Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam: Honoring traditional education and respecting Vietnamese Confucian scholars. It is also used as a venue for cultural and social activities. The Centre of Vestige Preservation and Restoration of the Central Monument undertook this task. The architectural complex on the fifth courtyard, called Thai Hoc, consists of a main building, left and right buildings, bell house, drum house and other buildings. The goal of the project was to ensure the complex contributed to the harmonious appearance of Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam and adhere to the traditional architectural tradition. Thai Hoc was completed on the 990th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi.
(Photo: Thai Hoc courtyard today)
The Centre for Vestige Preservation and Restoration researched and set up the first plan to restore the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam and its surrounding areas.
The Centre for Scientific and Cultural Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam was founded in 1988 and has undertaken the process of preservation of the landmark.
Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam has been successful in sustainable conservation. The continued preservation of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu includes maintaining trees, improving Giam garden and Van lake, and reorganizing the transportation and parking system.
Reviewing the whole process of preserving and restoring the landmark, it is apparent that The Centre for Scientific and Cultural Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam has invested its resources in the right way. This landmark will continue to attract many visitors and honor Vietnamese traditional cultural heritage.
GS.TS.KTS Hoàng Đạo Kính
Professor. Architect Hoang Dao Kinh
Former director of The Centre for Vestige Preservation and Restoration
Translator: Le Huong