The Nerdy Nomad

French Influence on Southern Cambodian Architecture

I have been stopping and taking detours to explore and photograph old French colonial buildings a lot. I have also become very taken with the Cambodian vernacular architecture, which you find in rural areas all over the country and consists of brightly painted wooden houses built on stilts to withstand the flooding of the rainy season. In the dry season, hammocks, tables and chairs are set up on the ground floor and it becomes a pleasant place to sit in the shade. The traditional ones have red tile roofs with stone decorations on the upper corners and wooden filigree on the gables. But more often they are covered in red-painted tin. We spotted many on the road from Kampot to Kep.

Cambodian Farmhouse

Another old farmhouse

Kampot itself is a lovely old French colonial riverside town laid out a typical Beaux-Arts grid plan, centered on a large market building, now defunct, and a linear park. I was excited to spot many similarities between the historic streetscapes of Kampot and of Port-au-Prince: in particular the ground floor of the buildings arches over the sidewalk to form a shaded arcade. I find it fascinating to see a similar French imprint on urban planning and architecture in such disparate places as Cambodia and Haiti.

French-inspired Plan of Kampot

Sidewalk arcades in historic Kampot

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This entry was published on April 27, 2011 at 8:19 pm. It’s filed under Cambodia and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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