Phnom Penh’s Iconic White Building Set For Demolition

Just days before its planned demolition by the government on July 17, 2017, almost ninety-nine percent of the 493 families had left Phnom Penh’s iconic White Building after they agreed to sell their dilapidated apartments at a price of $1,400 dollars per square meter—a controversial level of compensation set by Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara.

2017.07.18
Share on WhatsApp
Share on WhatsApp
WhiteBuildingCambodia1.jpg

Birds-eye view of White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Birds-eye view of White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia2.jpg

View of White Building complex, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha View of White Building complex, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia3.jpg

View of White Building and surrounding areas, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha View of White Building and surrounding areas, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia4.jpg

Corner view of the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Corner view of the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia5.jpg

A pad-locked apartment inside the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha A pad-locked apartment inside the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia6.jpg

Piles of household belongings and trash next to a wall bearing campaign material of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party , July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Piles of household belongings and trash next to a wall bearing campaign material of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party , July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia7.jpg

Piles of trash inside an apartment in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Piles of trash inside an apartment in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia8.jpg

Defiant residents who refuse to leave their apartment are seen sleeping inside their blocked apartment, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Defiant residents who refuse to leave their apartment are seen sleeping inside their blocked apartment, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia9.jpg

A family photo album on the floor inside of an apartment in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha A family photo album on the floor inside of an apartment in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia10.jpg

A household shrine with incense sticks stands in front of one of the apartments in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha A household shrine with incense sticks stands in front of one of the apartments in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia11.jpg

Defiant residents who refuse to leave their apartment are seen sleeping inside their blocked apartment, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Defiant residents who refuse to leave their apartment are seen sleeping inside their blocked apartment, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia12.jpg

Defiant residents sleep on one of the sky bridges in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha Defiant residents sleep on one of the sky bridges in the White Building, July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

WhiteBuildingCambodia13.jpg

An entrance to a staircase bears graffiti saying “A nostalgic goodbye to the building,” July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha An entrance to a staircase bears graffiti saying “A nostalgic goodbye to the building,” July 14, 2017. Photo: RFA/Vuthy Tha

This 54-year-old building with an open sky bridge is now completely shut down. Only trash and some leftover household materials are now seen inside the building. Nevertheless, seven families who owned apartments in the building remained defiant as they refused to abandon their apartments and accept ‘lower-than-market-price’ compensation, while other residents from four families residing along the right of way within the building complex also decided not to abandon the building.

Inaugurated in 1963 as a low-cost housing complex, also known as the ‘Municipal Apartments,’ for Cambodian middleclass and poor families, the building was designed by Cambodian architect Lu Ban Hap and a Russian-born architect Vladimir Bodiansky as part of the then-King Norodom Sihanouk’s vision for new Khmer urban transformation. Consisting of six blocks where 493 families resided, the building is located in the Tonle Bassac neighborhood along Sothearos Boulevard, just a couple of blocks away from Cambodia’s National Assembly and Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ buildings.

Due to its dilapidated condition, the building where prostitutes, heroin addicts, nuns, students, children and business owners lived side-by-side was transformed into a notorious slum and crime area in modern times. The building often caught the attention of artists, dancers and photographers. The government plans to develop the area into a 21-story multi-purpose complex under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession with Arakawa, a Japanese company, at a project cost of $80 million.

POST A COMMENT

Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.

COMMENTS

View Full Site