Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Seeing the city

Inside the main Railway Station building, constructed in 1932 but now lifeless
Last night's Van Molyvann evening at Meta House was jam-packed like I've never seen it before. You couldn't have squeezed another sardine in the place. The reason was two-fold: the topic of New Khmer Architecture is resonating with many who are afraid that the uniqueness of the buildings from the 1950s and 60s will be lost in the head-long race for construction that's happening in Phnom Penh now; and the architecture students from Mekong University were out in force, about 60 of them by my count. Nico Mesterharm's 20-minute film Concrete Visions got an airing as did a talk and slideshow from Bill Greaves, founder of The Van Molyvann Project, who are dedicated to documenting his work in detail.
The facade of the now defunct Hotel Manolis, directly opposite the main Post Office
I spent most of this morning in a tuk-tuk circling around the city visiting some of its major buildings as part of a new tour I'm putting together to tell the story of Phnom Penh through its buildings. So we began at Wat Phnom for obvious reasons and carried on to locations such as the Post Office, Railway Station, French Embassy, La Bibliotheque, Molyvann's White Building and the Central Market. My guide was one of Hanuman's best city guides, Sok Chamroeun, and his depth of knowledge made it a thoroughly compelling, and different from the normal city tour. We are including it in our tour offerings for the new high season.
Decoration around the facade of La Bibliotheque, the city's National Library
Building D at Lycee Preah Sisowath, the city's best high school for many years. My guide used to live in this building as a boarder.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, I think it is an excellent idea that people in Cambodia start talking about preserving the beautiful unique architecture of Cambodia. Thanks for sharing.

August 20, 2009 at 5:13 AM  

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