Star architect Zaha Hadid’s proposal for a genocide research center and memorial park in Cambodia has been approved and conceptual images revealed.
A departure from her usual hyper-modern work, the Sleuk Rith Institute will be constructed with timber, and is devoid of the usual sharp, dramatic angles which define her work. Instead, the buildings calmingly undulate upwards, with motifs chosen to emulate Angkor Wat and other Cambodian historical sites. “The facility will hold the archive of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, a nonprofit organization that records the atrocities carried out during the Khmer Rouge period in the 1970s, commonly known as the Cambodian Holocaust,” Dezeen writes. The center will be the largest of its kind in South Asia.
The complex is a huge undertaking, comprised of a “museum, a library and archive, a graduate school focusing on genocide, conflicts and human rights studies, a research center, a media center, and an auditorium that can be used by the local community.” Youk Chhang, who recruited Hadid for the project, wanted a building that departs from the severe designs of many genocide memorials around the world. “The best memorials are not objects we visit once, contemplate, and file away. The best memorials evoke reflection and commemoration, but are also living, dynamic public places that engage with all generations in the community,” he said.
The site of the future institute is itself significant to the Cambodian genocide: it was once a school which was converted to a “re-education” camp by the Khmer Rouge. Hadid told Dezeen, “Our hope is the Sleuk Rith Institute and its Memorial Park can have a truly transformative effect, bringing new life and a bright future to a site that holds traces of the great tragedies of the past.”
[Images via Dezeen/Sleuk Rith Institute]