Vann Molyvann’s house is up for sale – but should it be a heritage site?

With the former Phnom Penh home of visionary Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann on the market, its potential sale to private investors provides few guarantees over its preservation as a Cambodian cultural artefact and heritage site.

Phnom Penh, with its shrinking green spaces and rampant real-estate development, is not a city governed with the welfare of its residents in mind.

Smoke on the Water – a report released last week by several NGOs, also picked up by international press – offered merely the most recent evidence of this, highlighting the more than one million of the capital’s residents set to suffer the environmental consequences of vital wetlands being filled in to make way for development projects.

Opening the report was a quote in bold 26-point font referencing Vann Molyvann – the visionary state architect who shaped the landscape of post-colonial Cambodia – reading “[…] cities should be built not by landfill but by incorporating water into their design”.

A fitting quote, perhaps, because of another development on Phnom Penh’s (cultural) landscape in recent weeks.

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