Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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Tom Vater’s portrait of master architect Vann Molyvann in the Asia Wall Street Journal

The Asia Wall Street Journal published my portrait of master architect Vann Molyvann, the creator of Cambodia’s New Khmer Architecture in the 1950s, as a cover story in its weekend edition.

In the years after Cambodia won independence from France in 1953, Mr. Molyvann, a student of Le Corbusier, set out under the tutelage of King Norodom Sihanouk to transform Phnom Penh from a colonial backwater into a modern city. Many of his buildings are still standing, though most are now under threat from uncontrolled development and corruption in Cambodia’s capital.

Vann Molyvann took me and photographer Luke Duggleby on a tour around some of his most stunning buildings and reflected candidly on cultural development, or the lack of it, as well as corruption in relation to conservation in today’s Cambodia.

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