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Pioneering Modernist Architect Vann Molyvann's Designs at Risk

New Khmer architect Vann Molyvann's house, a unique historical landmark in the city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is up for sale and at risk of demolition. 

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The late Vann Molyvann was an architectural pioneer, and the most prolific architect of Cambodia's New Khmer Architecture movement.  As an urban planner, Vann Molyvann not only contributed to the architectural fabric of Cambodia after the end of the colonial period, but also to the creation of public spaces that fostered inclusion and social gathering. The New Khmer Architecture movement, clearly illustrated by his designs, was a regional inflection of modernism which helped forge a new Cambodian identity. 

 


View of the National Sports Complex, 1964

Vann Molyvann's National Sports Complex was included on the 2016 World Monuments Watch. A masterpiece of New Khmer Architecture and an important recreational space for local Phnom Penh residents the complex's inclusion serves to highlight the role of heritage as a positive component of urban development. 

The architect's residential designs have almost entirely disappeared. One of the only remaining examples is Vann Molyvann's own home. Now this historical landmark is also at risk. A small jewel along a crowded street with an unusual shell-like roof, the home is up for sale, which could potentially lead to its demolition. 

Given Vann Molyann's importance to the global history of modernist architecure, the destruction of his home would be a significant loss. Locally, it would also signify the disappearance of yet another historical landmark in Phnom Penh. We encourage initiatives like that of local organization Vann Molyvann Project's to draw elevations, sections, and plans to document the site and preserve the memory of Vann Molyvann's house, should the irreparable happen. 

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World Monuments Fund's Modernism at Risk initiative reflects its commitment to modern architecture as a crucial component of our twentieth-century heritage, one facing unique threats.