Different Eras, Different Buildings

In the space of just a few blocks of Monivong Boulevard, a major north-south thoroughfare in Phnom Penh, you can see clear examples of different periods and different cultures in the city.

The corner building above is a very typical mid-twentieth century building with shops on the street on the ground floor and then residential units on the upper floors, with later (and probably illegal) additions as the top floor. Such buildings are the mainstay of Phnom Penh’s urban architecture.

A few blocks up the street is this French colonial building which was built by the French Catholic Church as their Indochina headquarters during the colonial period that ended in 1954. After the Khmer Rouge turmoil, it was taken over by the government and today is the city hall for Phnom Penh.

A few streets farther on Monivong is this very new, uniquely shaped office tower. You can’t see the unique shape in this photo which I framed to show the ground floor. In most cities, a large glassed-in front on a major street would be a terrific selling point and commercial advantage. In the culture here, most of the storefront on the street has been boarded over and painted with an advertisement.