A temple restoration project in Hanoi won the first prize at an exhibition of Asian architectural restorations early this month.
The restoration of Chu Quyen Temple, also known as Chang, beat 33 projects from 14 Asian countries to get the award from the International Union of Architects (Union internationale des Architectes or UIA).
The Chang temple, declared a national historic site in 1962, was restored between 2005 and 2010 and almost half the time was spent on studying the temple and planning its restoration.
The work used many modern technologies, including transparent radar, to detect and identify fungus and moss all over the temple.
All of it was removed and recycled when the temple was restored, said architect Le Thanh Vinh, head of Vietnam Institute for Relic Restoration and chairman of Chang Temple project.
Vinh said his group kept the original wood pillars, only scraping out the rotten inner part. The roof tiles were baked in the traditional way.
The temple dates back to late 17th century, and is dedicated to Nha Lang Vuong, son of Ly Phat Tu, the last emperor of the Early Ly Dynasty.
It is said that Nha Lang Vuong during the sixth century led naval and army forces to beat Chinese foreign invaders who'd taken over his father's throne.
Pictures kept at the Vietnam Institute for Relic Restoration show that the temple had one big part comprising three compartments and two lean-tos. The roof was decorated with curling knives.
According to experts, the temple is one of the few that still kept the style of making sculptures of terra cotta and wood components.
After several instance of relics loosing their original form after restoration the new Mac Dynasty citadel in Tuyen Quang Province is said to look like a brick-kiln, experts believed the award-winning temple will boost relic restoration work in Vietnam.
Tran Chien Thang, vice minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the project can help set standards for relic restoration from now on.
Vinh said a relic can only be restored to its original form and quality if the work is done by professionals who also understand and are sensitive to architecture, construction, culture and antiques.