Vann Molyvann

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Vann Molyvann

Cambodia’s most celebrated modern architect, Vann Molyvann at his home in Phnom Penh.

Born in 1926, Molyvann was the leading figure behind the New Khmer Architecture movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, often referred to as the golden age of architecture in Cambodia. Some of his best known buildings include Independence Monument, the Olympic Stadium and Sports Complex, the Teacher Training College and the State Palace to name just a few. Celebrated for his innovative and unique designs, you can see his influence in many new buildings popping up around the country.

Molyvann relocated to Switzerland during the war years and returned to Cambodia in 1991, serving as President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Culture among other roles.

As Cambodia develops, and in particular, Phnom Penh, many of Molyvann’s iconic buildings have come under threat. In 2008, the National Theater and the Council of Ministers building were both destroyed. Even Molyvann’s own home in Phnom Penh (where I made this portrait in 2010), which is considered as a masterpiece and the spiritual home of New Khmer Architecture, has been turned into a design showroom, causing alarm in the architecture community when pictures surfaced on social media of the interior of the building gutted and full with rubble.

Molyvann, now 89 years old, lives in Siem Reap, having moved a few years ago from the capital.

For more information on Molyvanns buildings, visit the VannMolyvann Project, http://www.vannmolyvannproject.org/the-project/ who are working to preserve and document the legacy of his buildings.

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