New Khmer Architecture: A Symbol of Independence

Perhaps one of the best things that Vann Molyvann did during his time as state architect was to give the people of Cambodia a sense of pride and independence through his architecture. One great example of this is the Independence monument in Phnom Penh, also known as “Vimean Ekareach” in Cambodian. It was built in 1958 to memorialize Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953.

 

(Independence Monument, ©kitsanakorn 2012)

It is a monument near the city centre that is shaped like a lotus stupa, similar in style to the temples of the medieval capital of Angkor Thom. It proudly displays the rich architectural styles and motifs of the traditional Angkor architecture and serves to inspire the people of Phnom Penh. It also serves as a valuable city centre where national celebrations, memorials and other ceremonial events are held. Even today its symbolism is as relevant as ever.

The Angkorian style tower stands 37 meters tall and was constructed with modern materials and methods. It has since been recreated in almost every province. Often it is found near town entrances or more commonly in the centre of roundabouts at the town centre. One example is the one near the centre of the Takeo Province. They all bear a striking resemblance to the original and all also stand for the independence of Cambodia.

 

(Monument in Takeo Province, ©Stefan Fussan 2009)

 

Sources:

Ross, Helen Grant, and Darryl Leon Collins. Building Cambodia: “New Khmer Architecture” 1953-1970. Bangkok: Key Publ., 2006.

Norodom, Soma. Royal Rebel. Aurora, CO: WaveCloud Corporation, 2016.

Moritz, Henning. “26.2018.” Von Phnom Penh Nach Paris, Nach Phnom Penh Nach Paris. 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.

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