The Spider Web Chalet
The “Spider Web Chalet” is a uniquely built structure also known as the The Hang Nga Tree House Hotel, Hang Nga Guesthouse & Art Gallery, and The Crazy House
The name ‘Crazy House’ invites curiosity, and deservingly so. It’s a bizarre guesthouse, the brainchild, and becoming the life’s work, of Ms. Nga, a highly qualified Vietnamese architect originally from Hanoi.
Dang Viet Nga, daughter of Truong Chinh, former president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam designed this hotel so that guests would feel as if they were staying in a really great fantasy world.
It’s either a masterpiece of surrealism, or a monstrous eyesore depending on your artistic viewpoint, but very few people are indifferent towards it.
The building is a swirl of ferro concrete (also used to make boats and swimming pools), shaped like a huge tree with tunnels traveling through the trunks. Inside those trunks are rooms - small suites like a hotel (they can be booked) - and each one different, designed on a theme for an animal, plant or insect.
Crazy House rises about five storeys above its suburban neighbors, rattling and squirming its entrails and bones into the skyline, great sweeps of black and yellow concrete, bizarrely shaped glass openings, beautifully peach-colored walkways that are a cross between a tunnel and cave, and sculptured rooftops that appear menacing.
Between this cacophony of free form is a noisy collection of animals in wire cages - doves, hens, guinea fowl and colorful singing birds - and with them is a group of tropical trees with works of art suspended on them.
It is difficult to distinguish between the architect's work and that of nature, and I am sure that is Hang Nga's intention. Interiors are startling, eccentric and original. Low furniture, much of it built-in, is sculptured to the curving walls; timber-like mallee root is cut from trees and polished without further treatment, so an organic, non-industrial ethic is at work.
Beds are simply mattresses made to fit the various shapes that form a sleeping corner. The piece de resistance is a centrally carved animal statue in each room, denoting that room's theme.
Doors are shaped to suit the wall openings, and they often turn out like a Steiner door, with the weight of the panel synchronized with the shape of a body, just as light fittings and curtain tracks take their position in the twisting spaces as if they grew there.
This may be a Vietnamese adaptation of animism, but I suspect it is a delightfully personal attitude held by this clever architect, who is, by the way, available at the Crazy House ticket office or nearby design studio most days. Try to meet Ms. Hang Nga, of the soft voice and very heavy eye shadow, herself. Just how Hang Nga manages to create her monument is itself a story of mythical scale.