Seng Vannak / The architect designing Cambodia’s future

Architect Seng Vannak was hired straight out of university in Paris to become a Phnom Penh City Hall urban planner. While he develops a new master plan for the capital, he’s also been growing Vannak Architects, which erected the high-end condominium tower Tronum. He talked with Southeast Asia Globe about how the country has grown to appreciate architecture in a new era of development

What is the biggest challenge in architecture in Cambodia?
The biggest challenge is to have human competence – human resources. We have materials, we have land, we have plants, we have stone, we have concrete, we have everything. We need competent people to do stuff. [So] we created the company and we hired more and more young Cambodian architects [to train up].

What would you say is Vannak Architects’ biggest success?
[In training] any architect that passes through my workshop or my company… I always do my speech: “Okay, I just want you to remember that here or anywhere else you go, bring [the notion] with you that the more you copy – even yourself – the more you are killing your own job. You just have no idea that that’s what you’re doing.” [The biggest success has been instilling in upcoming architects] to try to make original stuff, and then we are rich. We will enrich our country with that.
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