One Hundred Houses, Vann Molyvann 1965.
Following this affecting experience I sought out the 100 Houses Development, located closer to Phnom Penh proper. This was a development of identical houses designed by Vann Molyvann for National Bank of Cambodia staff in 1965. Built of cast in place concrete and pre-fabricated components this was a first for Cambodia of a housing type which has become ubiquitous in suburban America, starting with Levittown. Mass-produced to identical specifications, the design drew from the vernacular with a raised floor and a distinctive roof shape that allowed for air circulation within. Vann Molyvann built the floors of the “wet” areas (the kitchen and bath) out of concrete. This gave the houses a life span far beyond their all-wood traditional counterparts, although most are now heavily modified and recognizable only by their roof lines. House 43, pictured to the left above, was the only one I found still in its original state.
I was struck by the contrast with my earlier stop, how only a little over a decade after One Hundred Houses was built the social pact which provided this quality and comfortable mass-produced housing for bank workers was transformed so completely to the point where most of the trained workers who dwelled there were probably killed or driven out into the country side. Instead of seeding a continued effort toward modernization, the development now is an artifact representing only what might have been.