Right before I left Cambodia, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon on a new Khmer Architecture tour with some Vann Molyvann devotees (aka cute, enthusiastic architecture students who were blown away when I told them I worked for Autodesk).
The projects I got to see were:
- 100 Houses Project –1966-1967, Vann Molyvann built this housing complex for National Bank of Cambodia employees. I love the passive ventilation, big windows, and interior stair case. These houses have an empty space underneath to project the inhabitants from flooding and, myth has it, to let the dragon pass underneath and bring good fortune on the family that resides there.
- Institute of Foreign Languages — 1970-1972, Vann Molyvann, two for two! This campus was built with elevated walkways to make sure the students can attend classes even when there is flooding (they are thrilled by this design element). The central walkway is a nod to Ankor Wat in Siem Reap. The Cambodians were doing resilient architecture waaay before we started naming hurricanes!
- Olympic Stadium or Phnom Penh National Stadium — 1963-1964, Yes, you read that correctly, and, no, Cambodia never hosted the Olympics, but this beauty of a stadium was gearing up to be ready for the Olympics should Phnom Penh ever host. The entire stadium went up in ten months! Some of the residents of Cambodia think it needs to be painted but I wouldn’t be surprised if the sweet college student who gave me the tour would throw himself on top of the paint rollers to prevent such a tragedy to happen to beautiful exposed poured concrete. On a personal note, being at this stadium at dusk and seeing the families and friends power walking around the track, goofing around on the high dive, doing choreograhed aerobics like no one was watching, eating street meat, and singing along to K Pop brought a tear of happiness to my eye. I will always be filled with happiness when I watch people enjoying public spaces. I get choked up every time. Vann Molyvann three for the win!