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Heydays With Hanna is a commemoration of travel memoirs, design musings, photographs, and personal reflections. I hope to be able to encourage you all to embrace everything about the mundane and extraordinary days.

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87 Phố Mã Mây, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

LET'S GO TO: HERITAGE HOUSE

Whenever the term heritage comes up in both casual conversations with friends or a formal discussion in class, I am instantly reminded of my grandmother and her sisters. I would always remember spending the rest of the summer break in a two-story duplex house built in the 1950s. I would remember running around the first floor enjoying the cool breeze coming in from the garden through the jalousie windows and slide countless times down the wooden staircase with my cousins. I am reminded of the different scents coming out from the large kitchen and dining hall whenever my grandmother and her sisters cook, I would remember the iconic mahjong table and the vivid sounds of the sisters talking and laughing while playing a few rounds of their favorite game. Those were dear and fond memories that I love coming back to. 

This to me is the real essence of heritage, it involves families, it involves the intimate interactions between tangible materials within a physical space, the people that inhabit it, and the intangible memories and conversations shared within that space. The word heritage is more than just the physical possession; to me, it is inheriting the family's stories and memories and carrying it with me as long as I live. These are precious moments and places shared with the people dear to me.

All these things came to my realization while roaming around a specific place in Hanoi. Sometimes the drastic changes that happen in our lives make us momentarily forget the real essence of a word or a memory, and it's places like this that bring us back to our senses and help us remember the precious times we unintentionally kept in the deep burrows of our memories. Today, I wish to take you down to memory lane as we visit this beautifully preserved heritage site in Hanoi. 

Located in PHO MAY STREET, OLD QUARTER, the Heritage House is considered to be one of the oldest houses in Hanoi built in the 19th century. Throughout different periods in Hanoi, the house retained its architectural features and is known to be one of the few remaining buildings of its era that remained to be intact. Historically, the house had a few owners and many of which were businessmen who carried our their trading operations along the street. Through the different ownerships, it went through, it is said that the house remained to be true to its original footprint and it was only after the French regime has left Hanoi that the house was turned into housing compound for five different families who stayed there until the '90s.

The house underwent a restoration and renovation process in 1999 and was opened to the public as a cultural hub that exhibits the traditional features of a typical traditional Hanoian house. The place was restored and curated to feature how the house would have looked like back in the day. Each segment of the house suggested a specific and typical activity in every home - welcoming guests, having tea, cooking, storage, and sleeping among others.
Upon entry, one would be surprised of the actual size of the whole place as one would be welcomed by the huge living or reception area. Just like the typical tubular-shaped Hanoian house, this one is quite narrow in the facade but has a very long span, depth-wise. I have also learned from AZ LOCAL TRIP that historically, the narrow facades played a huge part in dictating the amount of tax money to be paid in the government. Logically, the wider the facade is the higher the tax value and this really answered my question about why the sizes of the buildings in Hanoi generally almost have the same footprint.

This particular knowledge is a great example of how design does not just fully operate on the designer or the user's choices, it also has a lot to do with society, laws, culture, and economics. Design is collaborative in the sense that it shapes the way a community would thrive, survive, and adapt to the needs of contemporary life.
The house is constructed with two main sections interlocked together by an atrium in the middle. This technique in space planning allows an even distribution of natural light and ventilation around the place and in a sense, also creates a more defined division between spaces and its respective functions.
Right after the atrium, a covered al-fresco space will welcome you and show you a typical layout of an outdoor living space made for recreation - and in this setting, one would see the huge presence of teapots and glasses suggesting the activity of tea ceremonies and lounging.
The very first enclosed space in the house would be this room set up like a formal dining space and tea room adorned in intricately carved wooden furniture, ceramic wares, and printed wall art. Unlike the heavy treatment on the furniture found in the outdoor space, the chairs and tables in this space feature a combination of solid wood and marble materials in the backrest and the tabletop respectively. It honestly felt like walking into a historical drama set where each element in the space portray a specific emotion or character, waiting to be discovered by the viewer.
There are two atriums in this space, but the second one is quite smaller than the main one. This area is dedicated to the kitchen, dishwashing, and laundry. I really love the experiential progression in this place as it is curated in the most realistic sense, staying true to the textures and layers of the Hanoian way of life. Observing the layout of the house, I can very much say that the Hanoians valued their dining experience a lot. In designing spaces, we give the most space to the one that has the highest priority for the users, and this house seemed like it prioritized food preparation and dining in both indoor and outdoor settings.
After exploring the ground floor, we were given the chance to get a good view of the bedrooms upstairs. As this is an old house, we were told to take gentle steps and be careful of the wooden steps and flooring. The stairs are quite narrow, immediately taking me back to our visit to the JIM THOMPSON HOUSE in Bangkok. Creaking sounds of wood would follow you as you walk around the space and this gives you an instant precaution and reminder to be more mindful of your surroundings.
Just like the ground floor, the second floor is also adorned with the same shade of distressed marigold yellow wall paint and carved wooden furniture pieces. Surprisingly, the second floor felt a bit smaller than the ground floor, with only two bedrooms facing each other and a large open space in the middle overlooking the main atrium of the ground floor.
This bedroom is much smaller than the first one but this one has more natural light and ventilation passing through because of the floor to ceiling windows. I also liked this particular space the most as it does not only feel breezy, I also identified myself to using this space as a study or work area. My favorite part of the room would definitely be the wooden cabinet and the vintage stand fan, they are definitely pieces that I would personally use if I were to design a space.
Visiting the Heritage House gave me a better understanding of how Hoanoians lived in the past and probably retained some of these practices in their daily lives in the present. For a moment, walking around the place reminded me of the old house my grandmother shared with her sisters. It reminded me of Christmas reunions, Sunday lunches, birthday celebrations, and a whole lot of afternoons spent in the garden playing with my cousins. It's places like these that give us a universal feeling of delight and melancholy at the same time.

It's really great to visit heritage sites when you are traveling, it does not only cross out the places in your 'must-visit list', but more importantly, it makes you understand the place and its people even more by seeing how they live, dine, and preserve their spaces and culture at the same time.

I hope that this micro virtual tour would accompany you today as you begin to retire and begin to call it a day. Regardless if you were working or purely resting today, may we continue to find beauty and comfort in the simple yet meaningful and essential things.

Happy Heyday!
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HERITAGE HOUSE, HANOI
87 Phố Mã Mây, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Open Hours: 8:30am - 5:00pm
Entrance Fee: 10,000 VND

HEYDAYS IN HANOI

Comments

  1. What an interesting dicovery about the fascade size and tax money! Agree with you that design doesn't just fully operate with the designer's choices, but also society, culture and economics. I've visited some heritage houses in the Philippines before (I think they are called Baluarte) but I never had a tour so indepth like yours. I was looking through the photos and for some reason it sucks me right into the moment like I am actually with you walking around the place. There's always something new I learn by reading your Lets Go To series. Vietnam is so rich in culture and thanks for making us see it from your perspective. Looking forward to the next Lets Go To! 🤗


    Ann | www.annchoi.me

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    1. Hi Ann! I'm glad to be able to take you guys to places that I personally enjoyed as well. I agree with you about Vietnam having such rich culture and that really resonates with the way they live from day to day as well. <3 Thank you for spending time with me, as always. I hope you are well!

      Hanna

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  2. Loving this post! I've never been to Hanoi, and it's not a place I ever thought of visiting but I love the look of the Heritage House, it's beautiful! Lovely photos :)

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

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    1. Hello Anika! Hanoi is a beautiful place to explore, I am sure that you will love it with all its layers :) Thank you so much for taking time to read and visiting the blog. I enjoy reading yours! Have a great weekend ahead <3

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  3. This was really interesting, thanks for sharing! You're definitely right that seeing heritage sites or historical features when traveling helps give a better understanding of the place and the people. I loved the room with the floor to ceiling windows, what good natural light and fresh air. Hope you are doing well!

    Kathryn • simplykk.com

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    1. Kathryn! I am a huge fan <3 Thank you so much for taking time to visit and say hello. That room is also my favourite, you'll never go wrong with a room filled with natural light and fresh air. I wish you a great weekend ahead!

      Hanna

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  4. I visited heritage house in Hanoi last July, I didn't manage to get good photos so this is so lovely! People always make the cities, so I totally agree that it is so good to see heritiage sites to understand the people! Lovely post, makes me miss Vietnam. Hope you are well! xx
    www.lexiealexandra.com

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    1. Hi Lexie! We missed each other by a month, we visited last August and I miss the place dearly. I'm glad I was able to give you a small throwback to your trip, it's always great to be able to connect to someone who shared the same experience <3

      I wish you a great weekend ahead. Let's keep in touch!

      Hanna

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  5. I love the plants surrounding this house and the way it feels/looks so airy.

    www.fashionradi.com

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    1. I agree with you, Radi! Plants play a huge part of the way our spaces affect us from day to day. They make any room feel livelier and softer in texture!

      Have a great weekend ahead <3

      Hanna

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