Under Threat: The National Sport Complex
by Vann Molyvann, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1964
The National Sport Complex dating back to 1964, was designed by the most prominent member of New Khmer Movement, Vann Molyvann, whose role in creating the landscape of newly independent Cambodia between 1955 and 1970 is undeniable. The building itself is a great example of Cambodian Modern Movement architecture not only for its innovative reinforced concrete and metal structure, its enormous volume providing the capacity of 70,000 people but primarily because the traits of vernacular Khmer architectural tradition are clearly visible in its project. The uniqueness of New Khmer Movement was based on the successful fusion of Europen Modern Movement influences with vernacular Khmer architectural traditions. These traditions in the form of moats and raised walkways, serving not only decorative, but also functional purposes (as a water reservoir in rainy season and cooling device in the dry season), are evident in the building structure.Sadly, The National Sport Complex is now under threat of being demolished as Phnom Penh undergoes rapid development. Even though the building is still in regular use, the recent renovation was extremely harmful to its integrity and authenticity. The original moats surrounding the stadium serving as integral parts of flood prevention system, have been partially replaced by the new constructions. The recent modernization of the Phnom Penh also can impose a threat to this iconic work of Vann Molyvann, as it has been reported that there are numerous cranes and construction sites surrounding The National Sport Complex at the moment. The loss of this unique monument at the expense of a new building would be irreparable.