Sharing Knowledge and Skills in Cambodia
For the first time, World Monuments Fund staff members from the Phnom Bakheng project provided training to another international team in Angkor Park. The subject of the training was how to weld a waterproofing membrane. Back in 2011 and 2012, a few WMF workers, including Mou Var and Rin Sen, received training in this subject from Vincent Liot, an American waterproofing expert and consultant for WMF. The waterproofing material is a thick PVC membrane commonly used in roofs in western countries. To work well, it needs to accurately follow the silhouette of the surface it is installed upon: that is why the membrane needs to be cut and overlapping patches need to be carefully welded, as we also do at Phnom Bakheng. This is a critical set of skills at Phnom Bakheng, where waterproofing is one of the main restoration activities, aimed at preventing the accelerated decay of the terraces’ foundations. We have demonstrated this technique several times at the UNESCO ICC-Angkor conference throughout the years. At the January 2017 technical session, the French institution, Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient (EFEO), also working at Angkor, expressed interest towards using it for their project at West Mebon temple, at the level of the wall foundations, and so asked us to help training their staff.
Once at the site, Var and Sen demonstrated and explained, step by step, the whole procedure, and also how to conduct tests to assess the quality of the welding—a key element in this work. The EFEO workers tested their comprehension and skills with this technique, and were given immediate feedback on their work from WMF staff.
The WMF team has worked to safeguard the Angkor monuments for over 25 years, but this was the first time that our trained employees could train other Cambodian workers. It was a proud moment for them to be involved with passing the knowledge along to colleagues of other teams.
With the developing of Cambodia, there could be an increasing demand for waterproofing solutions: in the future, some of the skills WMF team members now master, including also crane operating for instance, could become very useful in modern construction too.