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02/03/2022 - 08:20

“Hue offers me many enjoyable challenges”

Master Andrea Teufel (The Federal Republic of Germany) was honored as a typical Scientific and Technological Intellectual of Thua Thien Hue Province in 2019. For nearly 19 years of devotion to Hue heritage conservation work, Andrea Teufel, MSc in conservation and restoration, has regarded Hue as her second home.

As one of the leading experts of the Federal Republic of Germany joining in the restoration and conservation of Hue heritage site, she and her partner won the third prize of the Science and Technology Innovation Award of Thua Thien Hue Province and won the third prize of the National Science and Technology Innovation Award in 2018. She was also honored as one of the typical scientific and technological intellectuals of Thua Thien Hue in 2019.

On the occasion of early New Year 2022, Master Andrea Teufel granted an open interview to Thua Thien Hue Weekend Newspaper’s collaborator.

Could you please introduce to readers a little bit about your life and work in Vietnam, madam?

In 2003, I went to Hue for the first time with the task of restoring the frescoes in An Dinh (Peaceful Life) Palace. This project was funded under the cultural conservation program by German Foreign Ministry. It has been almost 19 years now.

Since then, Germany has continued to sponsor the cooperation projects of the Association for Cultural Heritage Conservation (GEKE) and Hue Monuments Conservation Center with an eye to preserving Hue as a world heritage city. So far there have been 5 projects spanning many years, each with a different technical theme and content.

However, all the projects had the same concept of coordinated transfer and direct application of theoretical and practical knowledge about a science-based and experiment-based conservation-restoration approach for project participants on the Vietnamese side.

Master Andrea Teufel (the Federal Republic of Germany) was honored as the Provincial Typical Scientific and Technological Intellectual in 2019

The minor initial task that lasted 3 months in an Asian city in the Far East has changed my life so profoundly that this place has now become the focus of my life and work.

It is not easy for a European woman to be able to understand Asian culture, especially Vietnamese culture, and even more especially Hue culture. However, thanks to the inherent love, I have always been open, interested and ready to integrate and adapt. I have learned more through working closely with the Vietnamese team and other colleagues such as my colleagues from Hue University and my friends.

That brings pleasure to me, and it keeps me more and more enjoyable. Currently, I am living with Leopold, my husband. Ten years ago, he moved to Hue from France, with 16 year-old Vietnamese dog Loulou. We really enjoyed our stay here by the Perfume River.

Master Andrea Teufel and partners of Phụng Tiên (Ancestor-Worshipping) Sanctuary Project

Through the monument restoration projects you joined in, what makes you like best?

For me, Hue City offers a lot of interesting tasks and challenges. Here, it is possible to identify the tense area having difficulty in conserving perishable materials and structures constructed with such materials in the weather conditions favorable only for destruction.

How can such unique, fragile cultural monuments and structures withstand pressures, be faithfully conserved, impressively and enjoyably devoted to visitors? That question forms the objective of research in the field of conservation, restoration, preservation and is a core focus of my work.

For example, my Vietnamese colleagues and I have developed a reliable method suitable for all situations to restore the traditional Vietnamese lime plastering and decoration techniques. With this work and the way we empower the project participants to adopt that method for a long time, we were awarded the 3rd class Innovation Award by HUSTA and VUSTA in 2018.

What is your plan in 2022?

We will continue to work on the current project, restoring Phụng Tiên (Ancestor-Worshipping) Sanctuary in Đại Nội (Royal Palace), which was drafted between 2017 and 2026. In this project, we take new steps.

We preserve the ruins, restore the existing structures and will recreate what has not been preserved with on-site historic certifications through projection, digital and artistic media. Therefore, Phụng Tiên Sanctuary will be interesting and can be experienced in the long run.

And then, I will be overjoyed to see Germany again after two years and a half of distancing due to COVID-19 pandemic and see my family again, especially to hug my 77-year-old mother.

Thank you, madam!

Interview conducted by HOANG THI THUY TIEN

Translated from German into Vietnamese by Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan