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Da Lat ‘Crazy House’ joins bizarre global list

2009-09-29 (GMT + 7)

A uniquely odd architectural work in the Central Highland city of Da Lat, has been shortlisted by the Chinese People’s Daily as one of the world’s ten most bizarre buildings.

French travel guide Hachette has also highlighted the “Crazy House” as a not-to-be missed hotel stay on any trip to Vietnam.

The house, which occupies nearly 1,600 sq.m on Huynh Thuc Khang Street, was completed in 1990 as a personal project by architect Dang Viet Nga. The controversial building once dismissed as “crazy”, has now become a popular destination for tourists visiting the city.

The free-form undulating structure is quite unlike anything else in Da Lat, let alone Vietnam. The house is constructed on numerous levels with a naturalistic theme interpreted through its concrete curves, twists and bends, giving it the appearance of an old tree.

The interior is equally unorthodox, with almost every surface twisting, curving and running fluidly along the internal corridors, stairwells and rooms.

Mismatched windows give the impression of a fairytale house straight from Little Red Riding Hood, while stone tigers, bears, eagles, kangaroos and pheasants decorate the environs adding to the surreal environment.

The building has been dogged by controversy since conception, with arguments centering on the structure’s insufficient architectural integrity, its ad-hoc character and lack of formal aestheticism.

Nga shrugs off criticism, “Many people have criticised me, even my colleagues. I don’t blame people who don’t understand me.” Instead she believes that the controversial character of the house has won her more attention.

“When they first saw the house, people would exclaim that it was a “crazy house”! So that’s how it got its name, and now, it’s one of Da Lat’s leading tourist attractions,” Nga says.
Nga is more concerned with conveying history and myth through the structural and decorative styling of the house rather than conforming to strict architectural rules. The house for her is interconnected by “a cobweb, which can be conceived as a bridge linking reality and the spiritual world, linking the self and the infinite universe,” she says.

Visitors have responded to Nga’s creation, one French visitor noted in the visitors book: “Thanks for showing me the meaning of life. The fairy tale house took me back to my childhood, to when things were pure and natural.”

The Lam Dong Provincial People’s Committee has designated the house as a serious architectural work and its owner, Nga, has had the architectural plans and style of the house copyrighted, becoming the first of its kind to receive such recognition in the province. With the new certificate from the city administration, she now can expand and plans to build another house in 2010.

The nine other buildings selected by the China’s People’s Daily include the Forest Spiral – Hunder Swasser Building in Germany, the Ideal Palace in France, the Basket Building, the Public Library and the upside down Wonderworks in the US, and the Cubic houses in the Netherlands.


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