Remaining one of the oldest lasting French colonial buildings in the Phnom Penh Capital, Wat Chan Damdek’s urban architecture can now classify as a historical building, standing the test of time since 1886. However, as the evolution of the Chan Damdek area continues to change, so does the story of the building and the people who live inside.
This evolution has inspired four students from different universities, Villy Huotrine from Royal University of Fine Arts, Dany Rith from Norton University and Su Han and Prashasti Verma all the way from The University of New South Wales, in Australia. With all four coming together under the same aspiration to explore the transformation and the relationships between buildings and its inhabitants.
Last Friday they displayed their exhibition at the Royal University of Fine Art. The four enthusiastic architects studied the buildings and highlighted the unique lifestyle transformation of Chan Damdek, reflecting on the development from religious place of worship to orphanage and becoming shelter for the many families there.
In the Chan Damdek area, there are three buildings that still last in the French bloc. The showcase includes the Piphoat Raingsey pagoda, the Cantonese temple and the Catholic church.
Each of them embedded with unique architecture which leaves a great impression of the old religious construction in the middle of the Chan Damdek area.
“The Catholic church was built in 1990 and after the Khmer Rouge War, where the church became an orphanage for kids whose families were killed in the war to stay and live there,” explained Villy Huotrine.
Jumping from generations, people began to build walls and homes inside the Catholic Church and live there. The evolution highlights the adaptation from year to year that people can adjust their lifestyles with the building they live in.
“In the buildings, many families built walls and constructed small homes to live in. From morning throughout the night, they adjust with many changes of their assets to be able to move around in their home,” said Villy Huotrine.
However, not only do the people change the building architecture style but Sun Han also highlighted that buildings also take part in changing people’s lifestyle of living.
“Before people used to think that their privacy is the most important but as more people come to live, privacy becomes less important,” added Su Han, a student from the University of New South Wales.
Hoping to see both people and ancient buildings in Chan Damdek live in peace and harmony, the four also want to see these great legacies be preserved so that their stories can last for many more generations.