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- Location: PHNOM PENH !!!!!
Judging by the popularity of Big Bad Wolf with the Khmer youth, western ideas such as cultural preservation and nostalgia might eventually trickle up to the ruling class.phuketrichard wrote:You dont think all the new middle class khmers and the youth love all the fancy malls?
Its the khmers that are selling.
Given 10 or 20 years or so.
Put on some list to keep it for future generations to admire.
This place is not such a place.
The article said they were not even sure what it was built for...that UN staff drank gin and tonics while sitting on bean bags...WTF?
Hyatt is a Premium Hotel company.
I worked at The Hyatt Grand Champion in Indian Wells, California 30 years ago.
It is still there looking prisitine and is employing hundreds of locals in the desert east of LA next to Palm Springs.
Hyatt will employ hundreds of Khmer people and they will have good jobs in a beautiful hotel.
In my opinion, most of the Riverside hotels I have loved spending great times in and the restaurants and bars I had fun in will be gone in a few years.
I know most of you hate Trump.
But, he saved an iconic building near the White House and turned it into a beautiful hotel.
Frankly, I miss the quiet beaches and places I spent my youth exploring around the World.
Thailand was a country I immediately knew I was 25 years too late getting to.
But, Jamaica, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and even a whole lot of places in the USA I was able to experience before 'progress' fucked them up.
- Posts: 4786
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- Location: Gilligan's Island
-about the destruction of Phnom Penh's architectural heritage and city planning generally.
Sorry, no link available so i cut and pasted the 3-4 pages whole.
- Cambodia’s greatest living architect still lives in the home he built nearly half a century ago, an angular structure of red brick and concrete rising from behind a fence covered in bougainvillea. Like many of Vann Molyvann’s designs, the house is a seamless blend of modern and traditional forms. During the 1950s and 1960s, Molyvann was Prince Sihanouk’s court architect and senior town planner, presiding over the transformation of Phnom Penh into a modern capital. Today, the Molyvann name is attached to some of the city’s most striking buildings, from the fan-shaped Chaktomuk Theater, where Pol Pot and Ieng Sary were tried for genocide in 1979, to the Olympic Stadium, perhaps the landmark of the “Khmer modern” school. Such designs privileged the needs of water, natural light, and ventilation—the hallmarks of the local context and climate. An elevated V-shaped roof, still seen on many old villas around the city, has become Molyvann’s trademark, a coded signature of his initials—VMV—written in zigzags of concrete.
On a bright sunny morning in February 2013, Molyvann shuffled into the cool downstairs of his home wearing a grey suit-jacket over a pinstriped black shirt, spectacles hanging from his neck. At 86 years of age, the master architect was now too frail to climb the wooden stairs into the top story of his home— an airy space with an audacious swooping ceiling—so we sat downstairs at his dining-room table, surrounded by wooden shelves lined with books on topics ranging from Angkorian history and the art of the Renaissance to ancient Tunisia and nineteenth-century Paris. From time to time, Molyvann glanced up at the shelves, his eyes darting owl-like behind his glasses, and asked an assistant to fetch another tome. “The red book,” he instructed in Khmer, extending a finger, and then changing his mind. “No, the black one.”
With black book in hand, Molyvann’s eyebrows twitched as he tirelessly hunted down a phrase. To explain his architectural philosophy, Molyvann quoted extensive passages from his treatise, Khmer Cities—an answer to the uncontrolled development that he says is slowly sweeping away Phnom Penh’s heritage. “During the present government era there has been no urban plan- ning about Phnom Penh. It is very grave,” he said, pronouncing it the French way. “They have no planning—no economic plan, no urban plan, no financial resources to develop the plan.”
Born in Kampot in 1926, Molyvann was one of the first Cambodians to earn his baccalauréat from the Lycée Sisowath in Phnom Penh. After gradu- ating, he won a bursary to pursue his studies in Paris, where he studied archi- tecture at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, exposing himself to the work of the Swiss-born modernist Le Corbusier. “I was not a direct student under Le Corbusier, but he was really my master,” Molyvann said. When the young architect returned to Cambodia in 1956, Prince Sihanouk appointed him head of the city’s urban planning and housing department. The prince was the perfect patron, giving Molyvann free rein to experiment with a new vernacular—a striking hybrid form that encapsulated the hope and optimism of an ancient civilization taking its first steps as a modern nation-state.
Over the next 15 years Phnom Penh doubled in size as swamps were drained and land was reclaimed from the Tonlé Bassac. It became a garden city dominated by the eaves and spires of its Royal Palace and the daring, jagged visions of Molyvann and the Khmer modernists. When Lee Kuan Yew visited Cambodia in April 1967 he was impressed. Cruising along in one of Sihanouk’s Mercedes convertibles, the Singaporean premier reportedly turned to his host and mused, “I hope, one day, my city will look like this.”20 After the cataclysms of the civil war and the Khmer Rouge, invocations of prewar Phnom Penh—the “Pearl of Asia” and the “Paris of the East”—would be accompanied by bittersweet backward glances.
Molyvann fled to Europe shortly after Sihanouk’s overthrow in 1970; when he and his wife returned to their old home on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard in 1993, he found a set of water skis that had lain undisturbed for more than 20 years. Since then Molyvann has watched his creations disappear one by one, overtaken by uncoordinated urban development and runaway land specula- tion. The Preah Suramarit National Theater, inspired by the American master Frank Lloyd Wright, was a magnificent triangular structure rising like the prow of a ship from a garden of palms and blooming frangipani. After being damaged by fire in 1994, the theater lay derelict and was finally torn down in 2007 by the Royal Group, a leading conglomerate.
After years of fruitless lobbying, Molyvann has given up hope that Phnom Penh’s heritage will survive the city’s relentless surge toward the future. “Nobody cares. We don’t have any system for the preservation of these monuments. We have laws for expropriations, laws for building permits and so on, but don’t want to apply them.” Molyvann is particularly worried about the fate of what he sees as his crowning achievement: the National Sports Complex. He lays out documents showing the construction of the Olympic Stadium, and black-and-white photos of the complex’s inauguration in 1964. In 2000, part of the complex was sold to a private developer who has filled up its vital hydraulic system, designed to prevent flooding, with shoddy constructions. Though still widely used, the 60,000-capacity stadium has fallen into disrepair, its concrete bleachers chipped and its railings rusted. Trash fills the old moats. “I don’t want to speak about this, please,” he said, gathering up his photographs. “It’s very triste, very sad for me.”
Phnom Penh’s development encapsulates all the pathologies of Hunsenomics. Major projects are initiated at the whim of senior officials and tycoons. Often, they are announced in speeches by HE before they receive any planning approval, making a mockery of what few processes exist.23 Each project is its own island. Little thought is given to wider issues like parking and traffic, which continue to worsen as an expanding middle class indulges its taste for sports cars and luxury SUVs. Most major urban planning initiatives, such as flood mitigation programs, are funded and carried out by donor countries. In 2005 French consultants drafted a 2020 Master Plan, laying out a rational growth plan for the Cambodian capital. The municipality thanked them for their efforts and then left the Master Plan to gather dust.
On January 6, 2009, city officials marched into the Renakse Hotel, an elegant, shabby, mustard-stuccoed colonial building across from the city’s Royal Palace, and started stripping the premises. Mattresses, crockery, furniture, and guests’ luggage were all hauled out, right in front of Kem Chantha, who had managed the hotel since the late 1980s. The hotel premises were owned by the CPP, and once housed the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation that helped overthrow Pol Pot in 1979. (The word renakse means “front.”) But even though Chantha had a valid lease and had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the building, the party ordered her to vacate in mid-2008 on the grounds that the building was over a hundred years old and posed dangers to public safety—two claims that later turned out to be groundless.24 When the issue went to the courts, the judges produced a ruling in favor of the party. Despite being offered $200,000 in compensation Chantha refused to leave, saying the amount was far below what she had invested. The city sent in the goon-squad. A year or so later it emerged that the Renakse and several adjoining government buildings had been granted to none other than Pheapimex—the same firm behind the Boeung Kak development.
The seizure of the Renakse was a textbook case of the controversial practice of “land swaps,” in which state properties in prime locations are gifted to private business figures, sometimes in exchange for building replacement offices on distant plots of land worth a fraction of the value. Ministries, government offices, hospitals, prisons, universities, state-owned villas, even parts of the Royal Palace26—all have been “swapped” over the past decade. The year 2005 brought a bumper crop. In January the city’s police headquarters was swapped with a location nine kilometers outside town. Then, in February, the north Phnom Penh campus of the Royal University of Fine Arts and the Monivong Hospital went.27 Shortly afterward the police station in Siem Reap was swapped, just two years after it was built.28 (The old town prison had already been handed to the Sokimex Group in 2000.) “The decisions [to sell public land] seem to be dictated by money and political expediency,” Miloon Kothari, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing and housing rights, said during a visit to Phnom Penh in mid-2005. “There seems to be a frenzy, a momentum to grab up anything you can.”
Under the Land Law, state public properties could not be transferred to private hands unless they had lost their “public-interest use.” But without a legal mechanism to control such transfers, rulings were made at the whim of city officials. Even after a “subdecree on state land management” was passed in November 2006, banning the sale, exchange, or transfer of state public land, the rules were routinely flouted. The swapping frenzy reached its apotheosis in 2010, when nearly the entire Siem Reap provincial government was exchanged with a local construction company and relocated 16 kilometers beyond the town limits. (The new location was so inconvenient the offices were later moved back to town.)30 HE has made repeated calls for an end to the transfer of public buildings, but the practice shows no signs of letting up; it seems that there are too many powerful interests with skin in the game.
Land evictions and “swaps” have been key factors in the concentration of valuable urban land in the hands of the rich. In many cases land is put to no productive use; it is merely scraped clean and left to accumulate value for its owners. Nearly six years after it was shuttered, the old Renakse Hotel rots and slumbers behind blue metal sheeting. The land where Molyvann’s National Theater once stood remains empty, a disturbance of fenced-in dirt and weeds. Dey Krahorm, a nearby urban poor community violently evicted the same month as the Renakse, experienced a similar fate. At the time of the eviction one city official described the destruction of 150 families’ homes as “an effort to clear the area for development,”31 and the development company, 7NG, said it wanted the land for a housing project. Today, where a vibrant community once lived, all there is to “development” is a few volleyball courts and a fashion boutique.
As Phnom Penh continues to grow, the lack of planning threatens to unleash urban chaos. The city has experienced spiraling land prices, wors- ening traffic, and flooding due to improper drainage. When the monsoon comes, a third of the city is inundated. In 2009 the northern district of Russei Keo was frequently under water for weeks at a time. While Phnom Penh has benefitted from a $350 million Japanese-funded flood mitigation project, its gains have been undermined by the filling of lakes by property developers. Vann Molyvann warned that the filling of Boeung Kak has eliminated one of the main rainwater catchments and will only exacerbate the monsoon flooding. “The whole district will be flooded,” he said, pointing to a map of the lakeside. “It is very dangerous what they are doing.”
His house is still there next to the Tonle Bassac restaurant on Mao Tse Tung. It's a bit hard to spot as it's hemmed in by taller buildings now and there's a furniture showroom in front.SternAAlbifrons wrote: ↑Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:06 pm
- Cambodia’s greatest living architect still lives in the home he built nearly half a century ago, an angular structure of red brick and concrete rising from behind a fence covered in bougainvillea. Like many of Vann Molyvann’s designs, the house is a seamless blend of modern and traditional forms.
Molyvann fled to Europe shortly after Sihanouk’s overthrow in 1970; when he and his wife returned to their old home on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard in 1993, he found a set of water skis that had lain undisturbed for more than 20 years. Since then Molyvann has watched his creations disappear one by one
It wasn't in the greatest shape when it was retaken, but now 10 years after it is in a right mess, I'll see if I can dig out a photo.
I do to. its right out my window. looks like a giant empty billboard. totally uninteresting and the rooms have no opening windows and look claustrophobic to be in
on another note. looks like they are pulling down stuff on the carpark site in 154 so I guess we are going to have another 15 story monstrosity going up there too
That's the old T3 prison site, it was torn down around 2000 and nothing solid has ever gone up there since so I'd be surprised.
Just before demolition it looked well creepy.
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