“City of Water: Architecture, Urbanism and the Floods of Phnom Penh”

This article source focuses on research conducted regarding Phnom Penh’s relationship between water, architecture, and infrastructure. Through the cyclical floods and climatic context, the author Shelby Doyle addresses how natural forces have become a guiding principle for the urbanisation of Phnom Penh. Given the challenges from the seasonal floods that occur in the city, the city planning under Vann Molyvann’s management was rigorously attuned to the flooding of the plains. The agency of being this mindful and deliberate with understanding the cyclical floods, as stated by Molyvann himself,

“…the privatization and decentralization of the last 15 years threaten to scar Phnom Penh’s landmarks and wreak havoc with its water management… in the event of a major flood three hundred thousand people would lose their homes… you can’t imagine what could happen here.’’[1]

As the chief urban planner for Phnom Penh during the 1960’s, Molyvann split up the landscape into discrete portions that had specific architecture allocated in different zones, each catering to the function of the area within the whole of the city.

The second source included here is an newspaper article written after the destruction from the Vietnamese and Cambodian allies. Throughout the article it is greatly emphasised the destroyed infrastructure, devoid of their original functions, no longer perform as they should’ve during the floods. What was once established as specific cogs in the city to facilitate the proper infrastructural performance of Phnom Penh has been rendered useless as a whole.


  1. Doyle, Shelby Elizabeth. “City of Water: Architecture, Urbanism and the Floods of Phnom Penh.” 2012. Accessed December 15, 2018.
  2. Steinglass, Matt. “The City He Built.” The New York Times. May 15, 2005. Accessed December 28, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/magazine/the-city-he-built.html.

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