My classmate, David, took a few of us to Hiroshima House the other day. It is a passively-ventilated free school for Cambodian children, constructed by the residents of Hiroshima. After volunteering with the Cambodian team at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Keiko Kunichika, an atomic bomb survivor, was moved by one of the athletes’ saying that they hoped Cambodia could rebuild itself after American bomb attacks the way Hiroshima had. Kunichika organized a group of Hiroshima residents to design and build a four-story building within the compound of the Wat Ounalom monastery (north of RUFA, where we study today). The center provides education in Khmer, Japanese, English, social studies and arithmetic to Cambodian children, and to serve as a symbol of hope for Cambodian reconstruction.
The building was designed by Japanese architect Osamu Ishiyama, and completed in 2006 — after nearly a decade of incremental efforts. It has come to house a library of Japanese folk tales that have been translated into Khmer. It is a beautiful space, lit from above, without any enclosing walls — and while the use of brick and concrete could seem monlithic and impressive, the color of the brick and the openness of the design are uplifting. It is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Phnom Penh; the kids asked us what the heck we were doing and we just said ‘looking at the building’, and they shrugged and ran off to play.
My photos are below, but better photos can be found on the City of Water blog. City of Water began as a very interesting research project by Shelby Elizabeth Doyle about the architecture, architectural history, and infrastructure of Phnom Penh; however, the blog now documents Doyle’s research and teaching engagements throughout the world!
I also got some information from Japan Times.