Father of Modern Cambodian Architecture: Vann Molyvann

Vann Molyvann (23 November 1926 – 28 September 2017) was a Cambodian architect. Possibly the most well-known. During the Sangkum Reastr Niyum government (1955–1970), Prince Norodom Sihanouk implemented a development agenda that included the creation of new cities, infrastructure, and architecture throughout the kingdom.

Molyvann was the first of a generation of architects who contributed to the unique type of architecture known as New Khmer Architecture, which evolved during this time period.

Vann Molyvann was born on November 23, 1926 in Ream, Kampot province, and received a scholarship to study in Paris, France. After a year of law, he switched to architecture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied under Le Corbusier.

In 1956, he returned to Cambodia as the first fully qualified Cambodian architect, happy to put his skills to use. Sihanouk quickly appointed him Head of Public Works and State Architect.

Vann Molyvann was also an urban planner, overseeing the expansion of Phnom Penh as well as the establishment of the Sihanoukville (Kampong Som) seaport, among other projects.

Vann Molyvann was appointed Minister of Culture, Fine Arts, and Town and Country Planning in 1991. He was involved in the formation of the APSARA Authority, a multi-party collaborative entity tasked with overseeing study and administration of Angkor Wat’s ancient temples.

He also continued his research, writing many publications and earning a doctorate in Southeast Asian human settlement history.

Some of Molyvann’s most significant projects are; the Independence Monument, the National Olympic Stadium, Chroy Changva Bridge, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, Preah Suramarit National Theater, and the State Palace in Chamkarmon – now the place of the Senate. All of these projects are now considered critical landmarks amongst Khmer locals and the many expats who reside in Cambodia.

There are also several of his projects which are less known by the general public; such as the stupas within the Royal Palace, the Kantha Bopha Hospital, Sihanoukville Master Plan, the first Siem Reap airport and the pavilions and temples for the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha. Although these projects are less known, they are still true to Molyvann’s truly unique style and standard of perfection he strived for in all of his projects.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.