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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.

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“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.

+ Atelier COLE

Via WAN, The Phnom Penh Post

Images via Atelier COLE