zaha hadid elected for new sleuk rith institute in cambodia
photo by steve double




since 1995, the documentation center of cambodia (DC-Cam) has stood at the forefront of chronicling the brutality of the khmer rouge era. standing as an archive of nearly one million documents, the institution has built a reputation as a leader in the quest for memory and justice, with the goal of not only recording cambodia’s tragic history, but also helping locals recover.


in their efforts to maintain their objectives, the DC-Cam is establishing a permanent location called the ‘sleuk rith institute’ that will aim to be the leading center for genocide studies in asia–a place for the organization to continue its work compiling, analyzing and preserving information related to the pol pot era.


to achieve this vision, they have tapped zaha hadid as the leading architect for developing the plans for the institute’s major built components–a physical facility to house the DC-Cam’s programs. the site will be positioned on a piece of land that was donated to the ‘sleuk rith institute’ by the cambodian government in 2008. it will sit adjacent to a new public library and law faculty of the royal university of law and economics, close to the country’s capital, phnom penh so that it is easily accessible to local and international visitors.  


the scheme for the small campus will be comprised of a number of interconnected buildings, formally drawing on cambodian aesthetics and the surrounding environment. on the exterior of the structures, there will be a memorial erected to honor the victims of the country’s tragedy. additional green space will take shape as a large garden with a small water pond, creating a tranquil environment for faculty, students and visitors, as well as a healing space for victims of torture and other abuse.


the groundbreaking for the zaha hadid-designed ‘sleuk rith institute’ is set for 2014, and is projected to be completed in 2016.


youk chhang’s (director of DC-Cam) vision is inspirational. his brief for the sleuk rith institute calls for beauty and an optimism for the future to heal and reconnect a country, with the documentation centre of cambodia being key to that process. working with youk chhang and the institute, we have brought together an excellent team of cambodian and international consultants that share this vision to carefully plan the sleuk rith institute. cambodia’s rich cultural heritage includes some of the world’s most exceptional temples that reflect the extraordinary architecture and technologies of their period. we look forward to working with youk chhang and his team to realize his vision in a contemporary building that remembers the past, but also reflects the unwavering belief and optimism for the future using education, understanding and inspiration to positively engage visitors.’ – zaha hadid