Sep 23, 2008

Teacher Training College, Part 3: Lab Building

The lab buildings at the Teacher Training College, with a view from the interior hallway to the right.


This complex of classrooms represent the culmination of the ideas explored during Vann Molyvann's career. Material, structure and light all collaborate perfectly toward the execution of striking form that performs its function wonderfully. The four classroom pods are suspended on canted piloti which somehow make the structure simultaneously static and dynamic. They balance the sloping floor which supports the stepped seating, while giving the building a coiled, animalistic energy.

The classrooms themselves are studies in how to make a space that perfectly lends itself to focused study. They are relatively small, probably able to accommodate about 35 students. The vertically louvered sidewalls glow with natural light while blocking the view to outside distractions. The glazing itself is constructed of operable louvers, allowing for the room to be naturally ventilated. The light cannons at the roof, similar to those in the main building, once focused the light onto each lab desk. But when the function of the rooms changed a false ceiling was installed allowing for florescent lights and ceiling fans. That's progress. I should note that no lights were on while I was there, but despite M. Vann confounding direct sunlight at every turn, each space was lit perfectly to compliment its use.

The classrooms are connected by a hallway which has a masonry screen wall on one side that is unglazed and open to the air. Opposite the pods, the hall is lined with more conventional classroom spaces. Still, they are lit by a louvered wall and skylights which employ sculptural concrete sunscreens to reflect the sunlight to the interior. These reminded me of the technique Renzo Piano used at his Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston, some 25 years later.

The complex of buildings at the Teacher Training College are composed around a central courtyard. Sitting within it is a beautiful old tree with an incredibly wide canopy that drips with Spanish Moss. I think that the tree has to be older than the 35 year old campus, meaning that the buildings were composed around it. The lesson here, working with the existing to make a meaningful place, doesn't need to be spelled out. But it is a lesson that those currently building Cambodia need to learn.


4 comments:

yang liu said...

BUILDING CAMBODIA:
‘NEW KHMER ARCHITECTURE’ 1953-1970
authors Helen Grant Ross and Darryl Leon Collins The Key Publisher, Bangkok December 2006

Just find a really good book which wroted by architect Helen Ross and historian Darryl Collins.

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yang said...

sorry, forgot left my name for the last commence.

knulp said...

hello,
i am an architect who would be interested in moving to work to cambodia. do you have any suggestion where i could find a listing of studios?
best
giacomo