Materials of Vann Molyvann: From post-colonial perspective

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Through the examination of the works of Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann, this paper discusses the materials of modern architecture in non-western countries that became independent during the twentieth century. Modern architecture evolved based upon modern materials such as glass, steel, and concrete. However, only developed countries fully enjoyed the profit from them. In the colonial era, Southeast Asian countries had to import these materials mainly from their suzerain states. Cambodia, governed by France, was no exception. And even after the Second World War, when the colonies became independent, the “rule of materials” from developed countries continued. Architects in those countries were caught in a post-colonial dilemma. To build modern structures, they had to rely on foreign technologies and materials. However, as long as they continued to rely on imports from Western powers, the nation’s economic independence cannot be achieved. What an architect could do in such a situation was to utilize local resources and adopt a construction method that local craftsmen could construct. Vann Molyvann, an architect and senior official at the Ministry of Public Works, sought modern expression while using Cambodian local materials. His expression of exposed concrete is also a part of his strategy to maximize the use of local resources. Seemingly, his design approach is close to Brutalism. But it was not a mere expression, but a response to the reality in Cambodia; to adapt to the limited budget and to escape from economic control of Western powers through promoting local building industries.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 Proceedings - Inheritable Resilience
    Subtitle of host publicationSharing Values of Global Modernities
    EditorsAna Tostoes, Yoshiyuki Yamana
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)9784904700761
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    Event16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 - Tokyo, Japan
    Duration: Aug 29 2021Sept 2 2021

    Publication series

    NameInheritable Resilience: Sharing Values of Global Modernities - 16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 Proceedings


    Conference16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Civil and Structural Engineering
    • Building and Construction
    • Architecture
    • Urban Studies


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