KVT – The House that is Chula

KVT – The House that is Chula

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THE HOUSE OF CHULA: Hanoi Grapevine presents the third feature by KVT about expats who have had an important impact on the cultural life of Hanoi.
KVT is totally won over by Diego and Laura and turns the spotlight on their Chula house and Chula design.

My favorite house in Hanoi is almost lapped by the waves of West Lake when wild summer winds blow and always flows with natural air conditioning when the rest of greater Hanoi swelters and steams.

Chula C2j
Photo by Julie Vola

Built on a long, skinny block, it is a series of single and double storey pavilions separated by large courtyards and connected by covered and weather-proof walkways. It has patios with lake views, hidden gardens, a waterfall – and a tower at the back with a spiral staircase that invites you to climb to heady heights and take in uninterrupted lake vistas.

Chula C3j
Photo by Julie Vola
Chula C4j
Photo by Julie Vola
Chula C5j
Photo by Julie Vola

A narrow road separates it from tree shaded lawns, strewn with café umberellas, that line the lake shore.

If you walk, run, ride or drive around that part of the lakeshore road that stretches from the double dragon fountain to the Water Park you’ll pass a distinctive but unobtrusive lattice front fence and if you’re at all inquisitive, you’ll wonder what’s beyond.

Chula C6j
Photo by Julie Vola

Beyond is ‘Chula’, home for the past four years of Spanish expats Laura Fontan, Diego Cortizas and their three active children.

Chula C7d
Photo by Diego

Laura and Diego, like so many of us foreigners, came to Hanoi for a holiday, fell in love with it, came back and stayed. Their love affair with the city began in the early years of the century when they touched down for a couple of weeks to visit Laura’s brother, staying with him in Chau Long Street – in what is now the Hoa Sua training restaurant. Feeling energized and motivated they returned to Madrid, resigned their jobs and hurried  back to Hanoi in 2004. When their children began to appear on the scene, at the French Hospital, their decision to stay cemented…and here they are, still!

Before Hanoi invited itself into their lives they were already experienced travelers and had lived for extended periods in Mexico and Brazil.

Both grew up in Spain and studied in Madrid (Diego architecture and Laura political science). Diego is interested in organic architecture and puts Gaudi and Gehry high on his list of favorites. As a kid he’d had a natural inclination towards drawing and making art and as his university studies progressed he was more and more drawn to design, influenced by the art of the moderns – art that encompassed, amongst others, the geometric lines of Modrian and the De Stijl painters and the flow of the lyrical abstactionists.

Chula C8j
Photo by Julie Vola
Chula C9j
Photo by Julie Vola
Chula C10j
Photo by Julie Vola
Chula C11j
Photo by Julie Vola

Good design is what Chula is all about and though the Chula house was not built by Laura and Diego you suspect that if they were to start on this site from scratch them the complex wouldn’t have been too different. It fell into their arms a couple of years after Hanoi became their base, when it was recommended to them as the perfect place for dwelling, studio and workshop. The suite of pavilions already existed and though in those days it was in a relatively unfashionable and difficult to access area, they deemed it perfect. They could see its immense possibilities and immediately set about establishing themselves in Chula, a cool place that  keeps magically evolving.


  1. Hi there, can you send me the email address of chula dress shop in Hanoi as I would like to make an appointment
    Thanking you

  2. Hi Edith, I am diego from chula
    you could visit chula daily from 9am-6pm. not necessary appointment if you want to see the clothe for exhibitions. In case you want to talk with us please send me a mail or text me bySMS
    [email protected]
    to check the address you could see in google maps
    It is near the waterpark in the road in front of the road

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