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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sleuk Rith Institute - Genocide Memorial in Cambodia

Compiled by Pari Syal
Photography: Courtesy ZHA
 
India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
South Facade & Memorial Park 

Zaha Hadid architects unveil their design for a pioneering new institute and genocide memorial in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, which will bring together a museum, research centre, graduate school, document archives and research library.



The Sleuk Rith Institute, founded and chaired by Youk Chhang, a tireless human rights activist and investigator of the Khmer Rouge atrocities, will house the Documentation Centre of Cambodia’s one million documents - the largest collection of genocide-related material in Southeast Asia.  It is proposed as a global centre for education and research into the documentation, causes and prevention of genocide.
 
India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
Entrance at night

Despite the tragic history explored at the institute, Youk’s research led to the very considered brief for a building that promoted reflection and reconciliation, and also inspired and innovated. “Cambodia will never escape its history, but it does not need to be enslaved by it. Post-conflict societies have to move on,” he says. Consequently, the brief necessitated a direction that breaks from some of the stereotypes associated with genocide memorial architecture to create a forward-looking institution that deviates from the distress-invoking, quasi-industrial, harshness of most existing genocide memorial models. “This is not to criticize or denigrate such models but, instead, to emphasize that in light of a Cambodia’s rich cultural and religious traditions, we must move in a different and more positively-oriented direction,” Youk concludes.

India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
Library Exterior & Reflecting Pool
India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
School Courtyard

Located at the confluence of the Mekong and TonlĂ© Sap Rivers, the institute’s buildings will be built on raised terraces, to protect from Phnom Penh’s seasonal flooding. Accommodating the tropical climate of the region, the narrower lower levels of the institute are shaded by the building’s form, while louvers on the upper levels keep out strong sunshine. The building’s passive design - including measures to reduce energy and water consumption, while increasing system efficiencies, and the installation of renewable energy sources - will increase its ecological performance. The building form minimizes solar gain, and the external shading system will be varied on each elevation to reduce solar gain whilst maintaining sufficient daylight levels, where required. Thermal buffer zones will protect the archive and exhibition spaces and further reduce energy consumption.
 
India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
Library

Visitors will approach the building on causeways above reflecting catchment pools that mirror the building’s form and bring light deep into the internal spaces. As with the catchment pools of Cambodia’s ancient temple sites including Sras Srang and Angkor Wat, these pools - and those on the upper level courtyard and terraces  - will be fed by harvested rainwater and would be integral to the institute’s water management processes that minimize the impact on the local environment and drainage systems.
 
India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
Foyer

Entering through the atrium at the centre of the building, visitors would be welcomed by exhibits from the Institute’s collection; from where they would be free to choose their path either to the museum, auditorium, etc. Offices for researchers and Institute administration are housed on the top levels, while a bridge is suspended above the atrium to connect the school and library.

India Art n Design features Sleuk Rith Institute, CAmbodia by ZHA
South Facade & Memorial Park 

The institute includes a 68,000 sq.m. memorial park for the entire community with sport fields, urban vegetable garden and fruit orchards, traditional meadows and a forest that will house contemporary Cambodian sculptures. 

2 comments :

  1. That is just spectacular! What an example to greatness of our culture and civilization. I am sure it will be admired by many generations to come, and it will continue to inspire them to even greater accomplishments. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. "What can one say other than: SPECTACULAR!"

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