Library, Teacher Training College, 1972. Vann Molyvann.
This is the embodiment of the idea that the structure become integral to the look of the building, as here the columns are ribs that ring the exterior, with the glazing layer set inside from them. The ground floor is mostly offices set into the core of the circular building, with a curving stair that runs along the inside face up to the second level which houses the library. The ceiling is as sculpted as the exterior structure, allowing you to understand the radial roof form which is imperceptible from the outside. Van Molyvann intended that you could enter the library directly from the second level catwalks that ring the campus, but the entrance which is pictured above is now kept locked. It’s a good thing, as the entry sequence, from the darker and more confined lobby and stair up to the light-filled and airy reading room is effective.
Vann Molyvann himself has said that he based the design of the Library on a traditional Khmer straw hat. This sounds suspiciously like post-rationalization to me and his architecture doesn’t need to be rationalized; it stands as a work of art on its own. This work, in particular, is singular. There aren’t any “typical” New Khmer Architecture details, any real references to the stuff that was being built in the city in the 1950s and 60s, or as far as my untrained eye can see any overt references to the ancient temples. For one of his final buildings in