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Zaha Hadid has created designs for a new Cambodian institution

Zaha Hadid has created designs for a new Cambodian institution

For genocide researchers

Editor: Buro 24/7

Iconic architect Zaha Hadid has unveiled designs for a new Cambodian institution made up of five interwoven wooden towers

The towers will house the largest archive of genocide-related documents in Southeast Asia. Hadid unusually chose timber for the tapered wooden structure of the new Sleuk Rith Institute. The building is the brainchild of human rights activist Youk Chhang and will situated in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. 

The Hadid-designed project will house the archive of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, a charitable organisation, which records the harrowing crimes carried out during the Khmer Rouge period in the 1970s, which is now commonly referred to as the Cambodian Holocaust. 

Chhang was imprisoned by the regime at the tender age of 15. The activist chose Hadid to design the institute in the hopes that she would provide an alternative the stereotypical approach to memorial architecture – which of course, she has. 

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"We were keen to create a forward-looking institution that deviates from the distress-invoking, quasi-industrial, harshness of most existing genocide memorial models," Chhang said.

"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."

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The project consists of five towers, ranging between three and eight storeys high – which combine to form the new Sleuk Rith Institute. 

Zaha Hadid story

The new centre will house a library, a museum, an archive, a graduate school focusing on genocide, conflicts and human rights studies and issues, a media centre, a research centre, and an auditorium, which will be available for use for the local community. 

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