Sereypagna Pen

Sereypagna Pen
1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
To be held virtually via Zoom
From Independence to Post-conflict:
a Modern History of Phnom Penh’s White Building
Sereypagna Pen
PhD Student
Department of Architecture
The University of Hong Kong

Zoom meeting details
Meeting ID: 941 7818 3141
Password: 557561


Demolished in 2017, the White Building has become a testament to Phnom Penh’s modern transformation through built form in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum period (1953-1970). Constructed from 1962 to 1963, it was part of Norodom Sihanouk’s “Front du Bassac” project led by the Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann. After the Khmer Rouge, in 1980, the building offered the promise of new housing for artists and cultural workers who survived and returned to the city after the forced eviction of the Pol Pot regime (1975-1979). This talk examines the history of the White Building to understand Phnom Penh’s urban transformation from independence to post-conflict Cambodia.

Pagna argues that the White Building was a locally produced New Khmer Architecture and a place for cultural revival in post-conflict Cambodia, and part of a global conversation through collaboration between multiple local and international institutions and individuals from different continents with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and expertise. In addition to describing the building as a symbol of Cambodia’s modernist architecture, he will discuss how the building embodied a globally dispersed network of modernist movements throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He will also attend to how it became a place for collectivity, activism, and experimentation through different institutions and individuals living and working in the community that challenged the city’s development.


Sereypagna Pen is a PhD student in Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Hong Kong. He is the recipient of the Hong Kong PhD fellowship and the HKU Presidential award. His work on Phnom Penh’s Urban Form and Cambodian Modernist Architecture has been the subject of several exhibitions and presentations in Cambodia and selected venues in Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States. He has contributed essays to scholarly journals, architectural magazines and books, including Docomomo, a+u and ARCH+. Pagna is currently the director of the Vann Molyvann Project and a participating scholar in Site and Space in Southeast Asia funded by the Getty Foundation. He is the co-author of Genealogy of Bassac (UR Terreform, 2021), which received the 2019 Graham publication award.

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Eunice Seng

Co-supervisor: Dr. Tao Zhu

Chang Su
Lecturer, Department of Architecture

Su Chang is an architect, occasional writer and curator. His built work and architectural proposals situate historical typologies in contemporary cultures, focusing on how architecture and landscape can intersect to create space in between for new public life. Chang is currently teaching architecture design at the University of Hong Kong.



All interested are welcome.