"New Khmer Architecture and Japan" Explores the Link Between Cambodian and Japanese Modernism

"New Khmer Architecture and Japan" Explores the Link Between Cambodian and Japanese Modernism

"New Khmer Architecture and Japan" is the first show in Cambodian History to focus on the architectural drawings of its modern movement. Cambodia is a country with mature architectural culture, not only of the great Angkorian heritage and vernacular timber temples, but also of modern buildings from the 1950s and 60s known as New Khmer Architecture. Since the 1990s, in the context of the post-war redefinition of the national identity as well as the recent expansion of environmental consciousness, this Cambodian modern movement, with their sensibility to the traditional culture and tropical climate, is being re-evaluated; though the drawings and documents of the movement were believed to be destroyed and lost in the turmoil of the Civil War.

New Khmer Architecture and Japan Explores the Link Between Cambodian and Japanese Modernism - More Images+ 7

Elevation of an alternative plan of the Olympic Stadium, designed by UNDP experts at the Ministry of Public Works and Telecommunications, from Nobuo Goto Archive. Image Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto

Against this backdrop, researchers recently discovered original drawings and documents which survived in Japan, including but not limited to the drawings of the masterpieces of Vann Molyvann, the central figure in the movement. Based on these drawings, the exhibition is aiming to showcase Cambodian-Japanese architectural collaboration in the 1950s and 60s. Cambodia and Japan have a lot in common, from Buddhist culture to a belief in Animism; and from the Monsoon climate to a tradition of timber construction. Cambodian modernists could adopt Japanese architectural culture, with the assistance of Japanese experts, to blend them with own architectural style. This Cambodian-Japanese connection is a key to open a new understanding and interpretation of New Khmer Architecture.

Picture of Vann Molyvann and Japanese experts at the construction site of the Agricultural Center in Battambang, taken by engineer Hiroshi Yamasaki (ca. 1964). Image Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto

In addition to the reproduction of the original drawings, two new works are prepared for the exhibition: a special edition of the film "Beyond the Bridge" by Sotho Kulikar on the so-called "Japan Bridge" over the Tonle Sap River; and a 1/2 scaled model of the columns of the unbuilt Cambodian Parliament, designed by Vann Molyvann in 1958, reproduced through the interpretation of newly-discovered drawings.

Plan of the National Theater designed by Vann Molyvann, 1958, from Obayashi Corporation Archive. Image Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto

The show is organized by the Environmental Design Global Hub, the new research and educational center at Kyushu University in Japan; co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the National Museum of Cambodia and The Japan Foundation Asia Center; and assisted by the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. Exhibits are from the Archives of: Obayashi Coprporation, Fuji-car, EXPO'70 Commemorative Park and Nobuo Goto.

Structural drawing of the unbuilt Cambodian Parliament designed by Vann Molyvann, 1959, from Obayashi Corporation Archive. Image Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto

A lecture by the curator and open discussion are scheduled on 4th March 2017, 4:30-6:00 pm.
To attend, please contact: eghub@design.kyushu-u.ac.jp

Picture of the Olympic Stadium under construction taken by Japanese expert Masao Ishihara (ca. 1964). Image Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto

Curator: Masaaki Iwamoto
Collaborators: Sotho Kulikar, Kosuke Matsubara, Nobukazu Suzuki, Ivan Tizianel, Virak Roeun, Poum Meas Bandol, Takuro Kunitomo, Hajime Takeya
Special Thanks to: Vann Molyvann, Teruo Sakuramachi, Masao Ishihara, Hiroshi Yamasaki and Tsuneko Goto

Drawing of the Tonle Sap Bridge (so-called Japan Bridge), designed by Fuji-Car. From the Fuji-Car archive. Image Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto
Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto

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Cite: ""New Khmer Architecture and Japan" Explores the Link Between Cambodian and Japanese Modernism" 01 Mar 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/806311/new-khmer-architecture-and-japan-explores-the-link-between-cambodian-and-japanese-modernism> ISSN 0719-8884

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