Communal houses used to play a very important role in the Thang Long’s community. Statistics shows that currently, the Old Quarter still has more than 60 communal houses out of an existing total of over 100 religious structures. The main function of the communal houses in the Old Quarter is to worship the tutelary god – the guardian of the people in the area. In addition, many of the communal houses were set up to honor the guild founders who left their home villages in four regions surrounding the capital to establish their businesses here.
Kim Ngan communal house worshiping founder of the goldsmith guild. There’re 14 communal houses dedicated to guild founders, namely Hang Quat (worshiping the founder of fan making craft), Lo Ren (worshiping founder of the smith guild), Kim Ngan (worshipping the founder of goldsmith guild), Hoa Loc Thi (worshiping the founder of the dyeing craft), Ha Vi (worshiping the founder of painters guild), Tu Thi (worshiping the founder of embroidery craft), Trang Lau (worshiping the founder of the carpentry guild), Hang Thiec (worshiping founder of tin producing craft), Kiem Ho (worshiping the founder of lime producing craft), Pha Truc Lam (worshiping founder of leather craft), Hai Tuong (worshiping the founder of papermaking craft), Nhi Khe (worshiping founder of turning craft), etc. These temples have become common houses which treasured the quintessence of many craft villages in the northern region such as Bat Trang pottery village (Gia Lam, Hanoi), jewelry villages including Chau Khe (Hai Duong), Dong Xam (Thai Binh), Dinh Cong (Thanh Tri, Hanoi), carpentry villages in Phuong Lam, Cuc Bo (Hai Duong), Phung Cong (Thanh Oai, Hanoi), Ha Vi, Nhi Khe carving village, embroidery villages including Huong Duong, Quat Dong (Thuong Tin, Hanoi), Lieu Chang (Gia Loc, Hai Duong), Gioi Te bamboo and rattan craft village (Yen Phong, Bac Ninh), etc. Most of the communal houses were built from the late Le dynasty to the Nguyen dynasty, bearing the typical architectural style of these periods. But in terms of architectural planning and space structure, they have different traits compared to the traditional communal houses in the countryside of the northern region. Generally, the monuments in the Old Quarter are small, many owned by families who have to streamline the items, arrange neatly in a minimized scaled sapce. The communal houses features neither lake inside nor spacious front yard as they are usually seen in communal houses in the northern delta. As urban architecture, the communal houses usually feature tubular shape, small in size and narrow facade. The decoration of these communal houses in the Old Quarter are hard to be ranked as marvelous and incomparable to many communal houses in the northern delta such as those in Dinh Bang, Tay Dang, Chu Quyen. However, the ingenious and sophisticated folk carving have left a significant marks on the structural details of the temples. Perhaps the harmony between the the communal houses and its terrain and the architectural features of surrounding streets is a crucial element that gives the Old Quarter the distinctive attraction. It creates a soft space transition and visual connections between the past, the present and the future.