State Residence, Sihanouk Ville

Prince Sihanouk’s Royal Residence in Sihanoukville was built in the 1960s, and designed by Vann Molyvann. A large home yet of modest proportions, the Residence provided a base for Sihanouk and his guests in the seaside town.

Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, is located on Cambodia’s southwest coast. As a holiday destination, the town is popular with Cambodians and international tourists alike, due to its white sandy beaches and natural scenery. Sihanoukville was first developed during the 1960s as a functioning seaport, of strategic importance for trade in order to reduce reliance on river-borne transport through war-torn Vietnam. The urban master-plan was conceived by Vann Molyvann.

The Royal Residence is a single-storey structure, raised on concrete columns and situated on an elevated and densely treed hillside with commanding views over the ocean. Rendered and painted concrete, curtain walls of glass, and metal railings enclosing a wrap-around terrace contrast with foundations and sections of wall constructed in roughly cut natural stones of an earthy brown color. The design also makes extensive use of ‘floating’ external staircases.

The main structure is rectilinear in form, and features numerous outdoor spaces, including terraces, external walkways, and internal courtyards. Most striking is an oversized entertainment terrace, suitable for hosting large parties, which protrudes from the main structure in a boldly contrasting round shape.

The Royal Residence was at times used as a film set, including in Prince Sihanouk’s 1969 feature movie, La Joie de Vivre (The Joy of Living). Sleek modern furniture in the northern European style filled the home, while Khmer rock and pop musicians provided the entertainment.

Today, the structure is largely unused but remains in fine condition despite neglect. A tiled roof has been added.