Yesterday, 17 January, Kobe City Hall organized an event to commemorate the Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake that 18 years ago claimed more than 6,000 lives, most of whom resided in Kobe. The event started from as early as 5 AM at the park located right in front of the City Hall. I could not see the event in the early morning, but I was managed to be there around 5 PM and went up to the City Hall’s observation floor for the bird-eyed view from the top. Light from candles placed in bamboos created the shape of big 1.17.

After 18 years, families of the victims still could not hold their tears, recalling their great losses of families members. May they rest in peace.


Posted: July 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

In the sixties, several French Catholic priests designed churches in the style of New Khmer Architecture. Among them was Father Ahadobery, a Basque born in 1931. A French missionary, he was reputed for his artistic talents, which he used to set up various art workshops. However good he was at painting and embossing copper plate, it took a big leap to design the Saint Michel Church. In doing so, he created the sort of graceful atmosphere that the pompous Phnom Penh Cathedral totally lacks.

Norodom Sihanouk is said to have donated the land to the church when the new town was being built, Vann Molyvann seems to have involved in the design. Named after the patron saint of sailors, the church is oriented east-west on a hill overlooking the port and is relatively simple. Two slopes of a steep red-tiled wooden roof rest on reinforced concrete walls partly made of interlaced brickwork. The structure resembles a boat and creates an interesting light inside. A simple bell hang from a porch facing the sea with a double-skin apparently symbolizing hands in prayer or sails of a boat. The choir faces east and small glazed windows are reminiscent of traditional stained glass. Yves Ramousse, who arrived in Cambodia in 1957 and was later bishop of Phnom Penh, recalls Ahadobery sketching the design and having it built by a clever Vietnamese builder.

The Khmer Rouge systematically destroyed all but two of the 73 churches that existed in Cambodia in 1975- the Saint Michel Church and a Carmelite chapel on the Chruoy Changvar peninsula in Phnom Penh. The Sihanoukville Church was used as a barn, but for some reason was never demolished. Nobody seems to know why, although it is said that its Khmer flavor may have saved it from the wrath of the Khmer Rouge.

The Church does not appear to have been consecrated officially. Today it is used by the small Vietnamese Catholic community of Sihanoukville. Father Ahadobery himself died in 1996.

Source: Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970


Posted: July 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Like most architects, Vann Molyvann, wanted to design his own house. But he only managed to do so a decade after returning from his studies in France. The distinguishing feature of this unique design is the shell structure of the roof, which is an exercise in hyperbolic parabolic curves that required calculation from his brother-in-law, who was an engineer. The volume is almost cubic and divided into three levels, the open-plan living area on the second floor within the roof, the bedroom on the first floor and an office on the ground floor.

The main structure is reinforced concrete, with brick facing. The double-roof concrete shell is a regulated structure, water-proofed and covered with flat terracotta tiles on the outside and wood on the inside. The walls are finished with red facing brick. The interior is dominated by the sweep of the roof, which seems to float above the living room thanks to a horizontal band of glass around the perimeter. Vann Molyvann’s wife Trudy says the double roof is wide enough to walk between the two layers. As in many of Vann Molyvann’s buildings, Le Corbusier’s Modulor was used as a design tool. A 1.13 meter grid was used for the floor plans, the height of the balustrade is 83 centimeters (instead of the standard 100), and the height of the windows in the living room 226 centimeters. The roof inspired the Battambang Public Works Office designed in the late eighties by Sieng Sang Em, who was Vann Molyvann’s draughtsman in the sixties.

When Vann Molyvann built the house on what used to be a bigger plot, this part of Phnom Penh was countryside. With the construction of the Chinese Embassy, the municipal government built Mao Tse Toung Boulevard as a gesture of goodwill to China. By the seventies, the population exploded and most of the street was built up. Due to a lack of maintenance of the drainage system, the boulevard is now often flooded and recent work has been done to protect the entrance and ground floor.

After Van Molyvann left Cambodia in 1971, the house was rented to building contractor Comin Khmer, which then sublet it to a Danish man. During the Pol Pot era it was abandoned. The Department of Urban Planning and Construction later used the building. By the time the couple returned to Cambodia in 1993, the furniture had gone but Trudy’s water skis were still there.

Source: Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970


Posted: July 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Kobe Port Tower, the first pipe-structured building in the world was constructed in 1963 with observation deck offering 360-degree view of Kobe city. This symbolic tower’s unique shape came from the image of Japanese hand drum. The red tower is vividly illuminated by 7,000 LED lights at night at night.

Kobe Port Tower’s height is 108m, much lower than Tokyo Tower (333m) and Tokyo Sky Tree (634m) completed in 1958 and 2012 respectively.


Posted: July 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Last week at last I was able to make my first visit with other students in Kobe University to Hiroshima, the city known for the drop of the first atomic bomb at the end of World War II. To save the travelling cost we decided to travel by train using JRs’ 18 Seishun Kippu, but it took us more time that we expected.

Worse still, it was drizzling when we arrived at Hiroshima station after about seven hours of travelling. After checking in Lappy Guest House, we took the city tram from Hiroshima station to see the Genbaku (Atomic Bomb) Dome, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Sadly I not see it at my favorite blur hour as planned not to mention the undesired drizzling.

The following day we continue our trip to Miyajima, home to another World Heritage Site of Itsukushima Shrine. The shrine was built on the water’s edge mountains in the background. The red Otorii (large shrine gate) standing offshore is probably the most photographed and seen from the shrine. To be honest, I failed to make any shot I am happy with from the trip. This can be my own excuse for the second some day.


Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Taking photos for Frangipani Villa Hotels was a main reason of my home returning last month. There are six hotels in Phnom Penh run by Frangipani Villa, but I need to work with the newly opened 2 hotels, the Royal Palace and Living Art located near Royal Palace and Tuol Tompoung Respectively.

The location of the Royal Palace facing the King Cremation site is both good and bad. It is good as you can have a commanding view of the cremation site where Cambodian historical event took place from its rooftop (sadly photo was not allowed from the rooftop during the ceremony, except by some privileged photographers). It is bad because the yellowish light from the building was too strong dominating the nearby National Museum and Royal Palace and the site blocks the exterior view of the hotel.

I had a few days for each hotel shooting, but frankly I could not get the photos that satisfy me. Even though the weather could be a reason, I feel I could have done better. I will surely have another try when I have chance to go back home again next time. Below are some shots from Frangipani Villa Hotel Royal Palace. I might upload some from the Living Art later

In December last year, I received an expected email from Thansur Bokor Highland Resort’s Market Department asking me whether I am interested in doing photography project with them. It was quite is big one and more importantly was just exactly the types that could enjoy doing it.

The project was divided into two phases. The Phase I mainly covers the shooting of landscape and landmarks of Borkor Hill, while the phase II’s shooting is about resort facilities and buildings. I spent about 5 days for the first project. Sadly I could not get all the required shots due to unfavorable weather. Personally I wished to overnight on the hill, but the resort management said no on the ground that it is not safe to do so.  

Here are some photos from the Phase I. I am expecting to start the Phase II someday this month.
Old Church
The Old Church

Wat Sampao Pram
Wat Sampoa Pram or Five-boat Temple

100 Rice Field
100 rice field, but what you find are just stones and stones.

A dam on the hill for water supplies to the resort

Giant Face
The giant stone face along the way up to Bokor Hill

PS: I was introduced to the Marketing Department by a staffer in the same company who have followed this blog for some time. I cannot thank him enough.