Posted by Michael Carroll
After having spent a good deal of time photographing the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, admiring the architecture and the way the place was being used, I was keen to meet the man behind this architectural masterpiece.
Vann Molyvann is Cambodia's most noted modern architect, having designed many iconic buildings during the New Khmer Architecture movement of the 50's and 60's. Some of his creations include Independence Monument, The Senate Building, The Teacher Training College, the National Theatre (now demolished) and the Olympic Stadium to name a few. Sadly a number of his buildings have been demolished due to the rapid commercial development of Phnom Penh and others are at threat.
The Vann Molyvann Project has been working to document the buildings and Molyvann's legacy.
Molyvann re-located to Switzerland in 1970 before returning to Cambodia in 1991 where he served as President of the Council of Ministers, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts. He lives in his self designed Villa nestled in between other properties and shops on a boulevard most likely unrecognisable to 20 years ago. Born in 1926, he is in good shape and I am told he exercises every day in the park near Independence Monument.
My meeting with him was brief but enthralling none the less. I felt extremely privileged to have seen the amazing building he calls home, the hospitality of his family and most of all to meet with the man himself, albeit so briefly.
I truly hope Molyvann's buildings are saved from the frantic development of Phnom Penh and his work appreciated for the innovation and skill that it deserves. View the Olympic Stadium series here.