DOCUMENTATION CENTER OF CAMBODIA | PHNOM PENH
Design: alexandros avlonitis | charlie alazraki
In this studio, each student had to deal with the very fragile subject of ‘genocide’ and more specifically the Cambodian paradigm. The project was about designing a mixed-use museum, research, documentation, and educational center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on behalf of ‘DC-Cam’, an independent local organization dedicated to promoting memory and justice in Cambodia.
Respecting every genocide victim’s feeling of uniqueness, this project is trying to embody and reflect both global and local sensitivity related to genocide as a global phenomenon, as well as a Cambodian reality.
Its architectural operations will be the medium through which each DC-Cam visitor will be stimulated to experience the different stages of genocides through architectural operations. Its deep and ultimate goal is to experience the process that lead to genocide in order to prevent its repetition in the future.
As the genocide memorial is the core of the project, all other functions are conceived secondary as they lose strength without a deep understanding of the importance and cruelty of genocides. Its design, additionally, wants to promote democracy, human rights and equality. The project has a strong public character through its functions and design and searches, above all, public involvement.
Mainly focusing on the museum – memorial – monument, three main elements represent the core of this project: the crack, the landscape and the relationship between them. While the crack visibly means the breakdown suffered by Cambodian people, the landscape represents the country natural lifeline. Both realities interact in a contradictory but inevitable way. The same happens with the underground spaces that build the crack in the project and the landscape that lay above them.
The whole project surrounds the idea of two separate entities that, although at simple sight, shouldn’t be together, both need each other to fully represent history; to exist. In the project, the patio works as the threshold where these two entities converge suggesting the same reconciliation should happen in Cambodian contemporary reality.
The building aims to reflect the present city and adopt a built quality that is willing to promote a new architectural dialogue between the project itself and the urban fabric as well as between history precedents and the renewed Cambodia.
The public represents the first, and ultimate, aim of the project’s design.