Lecture by Moritz Henning, Architect, Berlin
Date: Thursday, 18.06.2009, 20:00
Location: ski stadtkultur international ev, Kastanienallee 29/30, 10435 Berlin, second courtyard, first floor
Already in the 1930s architects of mostly French origin broke in Cambodia with the colonial style current at that time. After the dismissal in the independence in 1954 head of state Norodom Sihanouk tackled an unprecedented modernisation of the country and forced the connection with international developments. Everywhere in the country airports, railway stations, schools and ministries from the ground were rammed, and were tried even a sort of social house building – till this day unique. Hand in hand with this modernisation push went the confession of an architect’s original language which seemed to the departure in a new society adequate.
The determining „jump forwards“ happened with the appointment of the 30 year-old Vann Molyvann as the chief architect of the kingdom in 1957. Responsibly for all state construction duties – and with it of the architectural identity of new Cambodia – he realise about 100 buildings. It is to be owed to him and a row of other planners that the country disposes today of a unique architectural inheritance which melts the ideas of the European modern age with local construction traditions to a specifically Cambodia modern architecture.
Till this day a good part of these constructions is received. After the chaos of war is got over, tourists again in the country flow out and money of the neighbouring countries in underdeveloped Cambodia flows, it becomes narrow for the spectacular remains of these euphoric years, nevertheless. While the splendour of the colonial age is estimated meanwhile by some in the country, the Khmer modern architecture hardly has advocate. And thus it threatens to disappear – unnoticed by the rest of the world – before it was even discovered.
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