Chaktomuk Conference Hall: Blending Modernism, Vernacular, and Angkor Architecture

Chaktomuk Conference Hall, located in central Phnom Penh, is a key example of the New Khmer Architecture Movement. Designed by Vann Molyvann and completed in 1961, it serves as an auditorium and performance space. It has a quarter circle floor plan that is covered with eight triangular gabled roofs. The circular design allowed for a 270-degree view of the nearby river. Coincidentally the Hall’s name roughly translates to four faces, where the four rivers converge in Phnom Penh.

Looking at it, the modernist influences can immediately be seen. It is covered in large glass panels offering a panoramic view outwards. The main structure consists of triangulated steel beams. The walls are made out of concrete. All of these construction methods were almost completely new to Cambodia at the time. The architect Vann Molyvann had studied abroad in France and brought back new elements of Corbusian Modernist architecture to apply to his own city.

At the same time, this structure is not in the typical modernist style. The references to vernacular and Angkor architecture make it unique to the New Khmer movement. The gabled roofs that fan out are inspired by the palm leaves and traditional fans of Cambodia. There are borrowed elements seen in the traditional gables and stupas, bearing a striking similarity to the nearby Royal Palace built in 1866.

(Chaktomuk Conference Hall, The Van Molyvann Project)

References:

The Vann Molyvann Project. April 5, 2016. Accessed December 20, 2018. http://www.vannmolyvannproject.org/.

Moritz, Henning. “Von Phnom Penh Nach Paris, Nach Phnom Penh Nach Paris” Bauwelt. August 3, 2015. Accessed December 28, 2018. http://www.bauwelt.de/themen/Von-Phnom-Penh-nach-Paris-nach-Phnom-Penh-nach-Paris-Lu-Ban-Hap-2430637.html.

Iwamoto, Masaaki. “Research On The Architectural Documents Of Vann Molyvann From The Archives Of Obayashi Corporation.” AIJ Journal of Technology and Design 22, no. 51 (2016): 801-06. doi:10.3130/aijt.22.801.

1 Comment on “Chaktomuk Conference Hall: Blending Modernism, Vernacular, and Angkor Architecture

  1. The narratives seek a good cut-in. However, the descriptions look somehow pale and monotonous, as it is hard to see the significance of this famous architecture to the context and history of the city and even the country. You could add more two narrative to illustrate the associations between the architect’s masterpiece with the social impacts.

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