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Final home of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh torn down for reconstruction

Friday, June 07, 2019, 11:54 GMT+7
Final home of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh torn down for reconstruction
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, sitting in a wheelchair, views the newly-built main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam on May 28, 2019 in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

The main structure of a 176-year-old Tu Hieu Pagoda in central Vietnam’s Hue City, where Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said he plans to spend the final years of his life, has been pulled down to make way for a new pagoda to be built on the site.

Nestled in a pine forest five kilometers from the center of Hue, Tu Hieu was originally constructed as a small temple in 1843 before the Citadel invested in a major expansion of the pagoda in 1848.

The pagoda was recently thrust into the public spotlight when Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, who studied at the monastery in the 1940s and recently made his return to Vietnam after decades spent overseas, proclaimed that he would live out his remaining days in the comfort of the pagoda.

A view inside the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam is seen in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

A view inside the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam is seen in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Now, thanks to approval from the construction department of Thua Thien – Hue, the pagoda is undergoing a serious facelift.

Demolition of the pagoda’s main building began in early May 2019 to make way for a completely new building to be constructed on its ground.

No part of the old structure is expected to be recycled except two ceramic-paved wall sculptures and some of the stone foundations used to support the old building’s wood columns.

Workers build the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: An Nhien / Tuoi Tre

Workers build the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: An Nhien / Tuoi Tre

Thich Tu Dao, the pagoda’s head monk, said that completely rebuilding the pagoda’s main structure is necessary due to risks of collapse.

“It may look normal on the outside but the inside [of the structure’s wooden components] has been badly damaged by termites,” the head monk said, adding that the new building will keep the same design and size as the old one.

The last time that the Tu Hieu Pagoda underwent a renovation was in the early 1960s.

Wooden columns of the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam are badly damaged by termites in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Wooden columns of the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam are badly damaged by termites in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Wooden columns of the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam are badly damaged by termites in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Wooden columns of the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam are badly damaged by termites in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Now, just weeks after the demolition began, the wood components that made up the old building are piled about 50 meters away from the construction site.

The pieces that are in good condition will be recycled for some other purposes, according to Thich Tu Dao.

Workers build the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Workers build the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam in this photo uploaded to the pagoda’s official Facebook page.

Dr. Le Vinh An, president of the Vietnam-Japan Institute of Engineering and Technology (VJIET) at Duy Tan University in Da Nang, is critical of the project, saying that about 70-80 percent of the wooden components are in good condition and did not need to be discared.

“The old structure could have been renovated at a much cheaper cost and would still have lasted for at least another 50 years,” Dr. An said.

A ceramic-paved wall sculpture removed from the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

A ceramic-paved wall sculpture removed from the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Xuan Hoa, former director of the then-provincial Department of Culture and Information, also advised against utterly tearing down the centuries-old building.

“Even if the new structure resembles the old one in both design and material, it’s still a new version that is born in 2019,” Hoa said.

“It won’t carry the vibe of the old structure or create an ancient Zen atmosphere,” he explained.

The reconstruction of the Tu Hieu Pagoda came as a plan to disassemble a 134-year-old church in Nam Dinh Province of northern Vietnam was put on hold indefinitely after being met with a public backlash.

A wall sculpture removed from the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

A wall sculpture removed from the main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

A new decorations is sculpted for the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

A new decoration is sculpted for the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

A new decorations is sculpted for the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

A new decoration is sculpted for the new main structure of the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Thai Loc / Tuoi Tre

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