Thursday, September 10, 2009
The frontage of these shop houses on Street 108 have undergone only minor changes since their 1931 counstructionI'll be taking my place this Saturday on an architectural tour of the old French district known as Le Quartier de la Poste of Phnom Penh provided by The Heritage Mission - a bilateral project between the Cambodian Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts and the French Embassy - which is part of a month long 'Our City' campaign to raise awareness about the what the city currently has and what it could lose in the face of reckless development. Today the Phnom Penh Post has an article on a row of six row houses at 73-78 on Street 108, built in 1931 in the Neo-Romanesque style favoured around that time. I took these photos of the houses towards the back end of last year. The row houses were popular from the early 1800s as colonialists built cities based on European styling, both in street and building design. These row houses were designed to work together and appear as one large structure, with arched windows, doors and columns all aimed at influencing the eye. As the houses were built around Asia, the new residents often converted the ground floor frontage into a small business and they became known as shop houses. This example of how the French influenced the look and feel of Phnom Penh will be the bread and butter of the tour on Saturday. On the first floor of each of the six houses on Street 108 there are two windows and a door, all arched, leading onto a small balcony. The top of the buildings have a railing bordering the tiled roofs and two of the facades are decorated with scrollwork, monograms and the year of construction, 1931. Examples of this type of building can be found in other major centres such as Kratie, Kompong Cham, Kampot, Siem Reap, Battambang and even sleepy Chhlong.