The Vann Molyvann Project

The National Stadium was finished in 1964 after only 18 months of construction . Photo Courtesy of Pen Sereypagna

The National Stadium was finished in 1964 after only 18 months of construction . Photo Courtesy of Pen Sereypagna

The Vann Molyvann Project is an international team of architects, architectural students and other researchers working in Cambodia to document the buildings of Vann Molyvann.

The Vann Molyvann Project’s mission is three-fold:

1. To fill the gap in the historical record by surveying Vann Molyvann’s remaining buildings and generating a database of measured drawings.

2. To raise the profile of Vann Molyvann’s work and improve the likelihood of its preservation through exhibition and publication, actively reaching out to broad Cambodian and international audiences.

3. To foster collaboration between young Cambodian and foreign architects, students, and researchers, connecting them to this extraordinary example of Cambodia’s modern heritage, and providing the basis for educational materials of ongoing value in Cambodia and elsewhere.

An initial intensive research studio in 2009-10 in Phnom Penh was followed by exhibitions of models, architectural drawings and other materials held at the French Cultural Center, Phnom Penh (2010) and Phnom Penh International Airport, Phnom Penh (2011). Models were also displayed at Norton University, Phnom Penh (2011-2015). 

The project was founded in 2009 by Canadian architect Bill Greaves to survey, draw, document, archive, publish and raise awareness of these extraordinary buildings that are today threatened by decay and development.

Vann Molyvann’s work forms one of the most important collections of postcolonial buildings in the developing world—and is of utmost importance to Cambodia’s modern architectural heritage.  Under the patronage of Norodom Sihanouk, Vann Molyvann transformed Phnom Penh and Cambodia, designing the Senate, National Sports Complex, National Theater, Council of Ministers, Chaktomuk Conference Hall, and over 60 other governmental, academic, institutional, industrial and residential buildings throughout the country.

These extraordinary buildings are threatened by decay and development, and the rate at which Cambodia is losing them is accelerating.  In 2008, two of Vann Molyvann’s greatest works, the National Theater and the Council of Ministers, were demolished.  But demolition is not the only threat.  Because virtually all of Vann Molyvann's drawings were destroyed after he was forced to flee the country in 1971, no trace remains if a building comes down. The Vann Molyvann Project is addressing this urgent situation.