Phnom Penh’s Urban Transformation as Influenced by The French
Phnom Penh underwent massive physical transformation during the years following its independence from French colonization. The models of urban planning stemmed from ideas adopted during its colonization, as master plans for Cambodia’s new center had already somewhat been realized by the French, but was continued by King Sihanouk and his chief urban planners.
While the rest of Southeast Asia was remodelling its major cities, Phnom Penh saw similar trajectories of planning characteristic of France’s development after the first and second World Wars during the mid-20th Century. Streets were reinterpreted as large avenues and boulevards, being widened to 20 meters, shifting to the ideal of looking at roads that served as independent public spaces and more importantly, that they could fulfil demands for future expansion.
In addition to public infrastructure works, land tenure took on a new perspective as well. Pre-colonized Phnom Penh compromised of a mainly rural population, with the land ownership scheme being that one could own land as long as the land is used in a productive manner. The vague titles were replaced by more concrete forms of zoning, as the official separation between urban and rural became clearer as the city began to see urbanization.
Land ownership schemes were becoming more privatized, and the urban planning saw the city centralizing around its main municipal or civic buildings such as the Independence Monument, Olympic Stadium, Royal Palace, The Council of Ministries and the Ministry of Defence and the Central Market. Such planning helped symbolize Phnom Penh as the new capital of Cambodia.
One may have a right of ownership, or a mere right of enjoyment, or only land services to be claimed on property.
The French Civil Code, translated by Georges ROUHETTE, Professor of Law, with the assistance of Dr Anne ROUHETTE-BERTON, Assistant Professor of English. Feb, 2004.
Diepart, Jean-Christophe. “Country Profile No. 6”. The Fragmentation of Land Tenure Systems in Cambodia: Peasants and the Formalization of Land Rights. 2015. <https://orbi.uliege.be/bitstream/2268/183306/1/DIEPART_2015_Fragmentation-Land-Tenure-Systems-Cambodia.pdf>. December 28, 2018.
Nippon Koei Company. THE STUDY ON REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE PHNOM PENH-SIHANOUKVILLE GROWTH CORRIDOR IN THE KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA. Japan. 2003
Rouhette, Georges; and Rouhette-Berton, Anne. “Legifrance”. <https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/>. December 28, 2018.