Architect Bui Kien Quoc accompanied us on a small engine boat up the Thu Bon river to Triem Tay village, 5 km west of Hoi An. Quoc says the Thu Bon river looks peaceful but it becomes treacherous from time to time. 4 years ago Triem Tay village was devastated by erosion caused by floodwaters. When the boat came ashore no one could understand why Quoc chose to build his garden house in this dangerous place. Quoc said: “Triem Tay village was about to disappear because of a relocation decision to avoid land erosion which swept away one house a year on average. The hamlet once lost one third of its area. The historic flood of 2009 swept away 20 m2 of land and people thought that my project would be in vain.”
Many local residents doubted Quoc’s success. Duong Thu Khung was one of them: “We were very surprised when we heard about his project because the land here erodes every year. We were glad to see his daring efforts finally pay off.”
After 3 years of painstaking effort to embank the village, Quoc’s garden house began to take form. No one thought that Triem Tay could have such a beautiful garden house because just a few years ago this village, surrounded by bamboo groves was about to be relocated because of the rapid rate of erosion. Quoc studied architecture at the School of Fine Arts in Paris and he has worked in France for more than 40 years. Quoc was born and grew up in Quang Nam province and he realized that his native place had the perfect conditions for developing tourism, particularly in the western region. He said: “Land erosion began to slow down since 2012 and only the land on the left and right sides of the house still erode. While traveling up the Thu Bon river you will see my garden house filled with greenery. I’m happy to be able to preserve the land for the villagers.”
Many of the people who were relocated have returned to the village and those who stayed now feel better about building permanent houses. The family of Duong Thi Khung moved to a nearby village a year ago but now has come back to Triem Tay and has built a two-storey house. Mrs. Khung: “Land erosion is no longer a concern thanks to Quoc. If he had not built his house here, we would not dare to rebuild our house either and would rather move to another place for resettlement.”
Built on an area of 13,000 m2, Quoc’s garden house looks like a portrait of rural Vietnam with green bamboo groves and thatched-roof houses beside the Thu Bon river. Quoc hopes that when they visit Triem Tay, tourists will immerse themselves in the local life and its everyday activities and that this place will soon become a favorite destination of visitors to the ancient town of Hoi An.