Think of Cambodia, and the first thing that comes to mind are the famed ruins of Angkor Wat — it’s even emblazoned on the national flag. But for French architect Olivier Cunin, it was a different temple that sparked his over-two-decade-old love affair with Khmer architecture.
Unlike the Angkor Wat, which has been widely studied and written about, there’s a lot more mystery surrounding Cunin’s favourite: the Bayon temple site. “Angkor Wat, whose architectural design is considered to be of the ‘classical style’, is very symmetrical and easy to understand. The design of Bayon seems chaotic and mysterious, as there are more structures linked to each other with several galleries and pavilions to create a complex space. There is no clearly stated path to access the Bayon temple, as in the case of Angkor Wat,” said Cunin, who is in Mumbai to conduct a lecture series on ancient Khmer monuments and iconography.