The work of architect Vann Molyvann is being displayed at Siem Reap town’s Treeline Urban Resort to honour the “man who built Cambodia”.
The theme of the exhibition focuses on Molyvann’s construction techniques, namely “the specific elements of a really Khmer ecological architecture” and using modern building materials. Molyvann’s buildings worked in harmony with the environment through their incorporation of water, natural light and ventilation, inspiring younger generations of architects to meet the demands of context, climate and culture.
Chhin Chhon Visothm, a Treeline staff member who accompanies visitors through the exhibition, tells The Post that the exhibition has been visited by both foreigners and locals, many of whom are architects and artists.
“In his age, Molyvann’s architecture was considered revolutionary. He based his designs on ventilation, water and light working in harmony with structure. He designed buildings to have holes allowing for air to blow in and out and natural light to pass through. Beneath the structures he also had drainage systems to support the buildings during the dry season,” he says.
Molyvann was born in 1926 in Kampot province. He earned a scholarship to study architecture at the School of Fine Arts (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts) in Paris in 1946 and made Cambodian history by becoming the country’s first fully-qualified architect upon completing his studies.
In 1956, Molyvann returned home and was appointed official state architect by Prince Norodom Sihanouk and was entrusted with spearheading a revolutionary modern Khmer urban planning movement in 1950s and 1960s. So profound was his legacy, in 2017 he had a documentary dedicated to him called The Man Who Built Cambodia.
Pen Sereypagna, the Vann Molyvann Project’s director, said this is the first exhibition dedicated to Molyvann in Siem Reap, where the architect spent his final years.
“This will also be the last time the public and admirers of Molyvann will be able to see his architectural models before they are transported to the M+ museum in Hong Kong. It is a privilege to host such a fascinating exhibition, and I believe a fitting tribute to the life and work of the Cambodian maestro”