State Palace, Chamkar Mon Compound

Norodom Sihanouk commissioned Vann Molyvann to construct a new reception hall in the Chamkar Mon State Compound to be completed in time for a visit by French President Charles de Gaulle in 1966. Known as the State Palace, the building supplemented the existing State Reception Halls, which Vann Molyvann had built for visiting dignitaries in 1962. The new building provided dining space for 200, offices, and accommodation for guests.

As in many of Vann Molyvann’s buildings, the roof is among the most im­portant design elements. A series of folded concrete plates, it changes structure subtly throughout and unifies the complex. On the north façade, it projects 12 meters from the face of the building to shelter the front stairs. At the center of the complex it rises 6 meters on massive sand­stone piers above the open-air terrace where state dinners were held. At the perimeter it appears to float free of the walls. A slot between top of wall and roof enhances this effect, allowing light to enter at the building edge and water to collect in a gutter concealed in the wall thickness.

The Chamkar Mon Compound was occupied by Lon Nol following the coup in 1971. The building now houses the Senate; the central platform has been enclosed and now serves as the Senate chamber.