Phnom Penh-based collaborative design practice Atelier COLE recently unveiled designs for Cambodia’s Ang Trapeang Thmor Memorial Crane Reserve, a planned information center that will memorialize the region’s tragic past and highlight the reserve’s diverse wildlife through eco-tourism. Located in the 12,650-hectare Ang Trapeang Thmor wildlife reserve in northeast Cambodia, the interpretation center is wrapped in glazing to emphasize the connection with the surrounding environment and will also feature information presentations on the site’s dark past.
Although the brief initially sought a center that focused on the wildlife at Ang Trapeang Thmor, a major ecological hotspot and home to some of the world’s rarest birds, Atelier COLE soon expanded the design scope following research on the site’s historical significance. Once a natural forest lake, the Khmer Rouge expanded the area’s reservoir as part of a disastrous engineering project believed to have resulted in 30,000 worker deaths. The proposed center will raise awareness of this tragic story, along with the other atrocities of the Cambodian Civil War and subsequent Holocaust.
“It will put the current natural wonders of the site in their historic context, allowing people to understand not just what they see before them but what happened in the past,” said Simon Manhood, a technical advisor at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to The Phnom Penh Post. In addition to its historical and ecological interpretative exhibitions, the information center will also feature a cafe, shop, and viewing platforms. Skylights and floor-to-ceiling glazing will maximize natural light and views; rough timber columns punctuate the building and allude to the site’s forested past.
Images via Atelier COLE