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Cambodia Architecture - synonymous with Khmer architecture

Last updated: August 17, 2020 / 13566 Views

The architecture and construction field in Cambodia is a main priority and a basic foundation of social development. Cambodia has a great history in the field of architecture. Cambodian architecture has become synonymous with Khmer architecture and more precisely to the iconic constructions of Angkor temples during the growth and peak of Khmer Empire. 

The architecture and construction field in Cambodia is a main priority and a basic foundation of social development. Cambodia has a great history in the field of architecture. Cambodian architecture has become synonymous with Khmer architecture and more precisely to the iconic constructions of Angkor temples during the growth and peak of Khmer Empire.

Angkor Temple

Angkor Temple

There are over a hundred major architectural sites to be visited in and around Siem Reap – the religious remains of a series of cities built from the 7th to the 13th centuries. Most temples were built in eastern orientation, a sort of glorification of the rising sun, could be considered as a manifestation of the sun cult so favored in ancient civilizations. Many were built as temple-mountains or pyramids, symbolic of the cosmic Mount Meru of Hindu mythology. As the residence of gods, the temples were made up of more endurable materials such as the bricks, laterites and sandstones.  Numerous stones were carved with artistic craftsmanship to portray the gods and the deities, the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as the important events of Khmer history.  For the temples dedicated to Buddhism, the architecture is prominent with stone carving related to the stories of Lord Buddha and his teachings.

Stone carving

Stone carving

Typically, traditional houses of the Khmer people are rectangular two-storey buildings. The basic structure consists of a wooden frame, the wall is made up of either the straws or the bamboo with the roof covered with the thatched leaves of dry coconut palms. As well as providing a living and working area, the building serves as a shelter, which is of vital importance in the everyday life of a home in a rural setting that is exposed to the elements. The architecture of the dignitaries' houses and the palaces was different in sizes, layouts and dimensions. The materials used to build the house consisted of stronger wooden planks, generally made up of teakwood, and the roof was covered with tiles for the inner rooms and with thatched leaves for the outer corners. These differences clearly identified the classes of the people.

Led by architect Vann Molyvann and under the close patronage of King Norodom Sihanouk, "New Khmer Architecture" flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. Elements of Western modernism were blended with well-recognized Cambodian motifs and traditional Southeast Asian architecture built in harmony with the tropical climate.

Khmer architecture

Khmer architecture

If you are interested in Khmer architecture, you can join in an architecture tour by tuk-tuk, cyclo or minivan around the city of Siem Reap or Phnom Penh which is home to some of the most iconic structures. Architecture is definitely the topic where a drawing can be worth a thousand words. A visual journey into Khmer architecture will help you understand the structure of the Angkor sanctuaries and temples.  

Thuy Linh

Image sources: Internet

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