At the beginning of civilization around the globe, people were living in caves, developing stone-making techniques, hunting, and creating highly artistic pottery. By the time settlers reached the 1st century, they had begun to create complexes, defying religious separations, organizing societies, etc. The most forward groups were living along the coasts for cultivation and started to keep domestic animals. The earliest proof of habitation in Cambodia has been found at Loang Spean in northwestern Cambodia. It was involved started around 5000 B.C. by individuals who lived in caves, polished stones and embellished pottery with line and brush markings. The principal proof of village-like settlements comes from a site called Bas-Plateaux, in southeastern Cambodia, first occupied in the second century B.C.

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Temple of Angkor Wat_©Wikipedia
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Naga Bridge_©teeandberms

During the Angkor period of the Khmer empire, the Khmers produced their form of architecture. The characteristics of Khmer architecture were influenced by the rock-cutting technique from Indian architecture, particularly in sculptures which later on influenced southeast Asia and were further adopted by Indianised architecture of Cambodian, Annamese and Javanese temples. During the Angkor period, the emphasis was necessarily on temples and other religious buildings made of stone and surviving till today. Rest structures such as dwellings were non-religious that too made of wood and had not survived.

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A temple in Sambor Prei Kuk_©Wikipedia
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Lintel from Sambo Prei Kuk at Guimet Museum, Paris_©Wikipedia
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Preah Ko, temple made mainly of brick_©Wikipedia

The Khmer empire was a powerful kingdom, but before that, three main architectural styles used to be followed in Cambodia, which dominated most of the Indochina region. The three architectural styles were: the Sambor Prei Kuk style (610-650), Prei Khmeng style (635-700), and Kompong Preah style (700-800). Ancient Khmer architecture, also known as Angkorian Architecture, flourished from the 9th to 15th centuries. During this period, the emphasis was majorly on religious architecture.

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Ta Keo, temple made mainly in sandstone_©bon_vivant_ripon

From 1863 to 1953, by the time of Cambodia’s official independence, the country was a French protectorate. French colonial architecture focused on administrative buildings and so on. They began to form a modern city complete with supporting services of schools, hotels, hospitals, etc. Most of the buildings were designed with consideration for the hot and humid climate. The design features were decorative and ornamental designs, wooden louvre windows and doors, solid brick walls, and high ceilings to keep the heat out.

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Hotel Le Royal_©Wikipedia

Raffles Hotel Le Royal was built during a time marked by worldwide industrialization following World War I and before World War II. Ernest Hébrard, a French architect, built the Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh during the 1920s. Hébrard arranged the inn inside the stylish European quarter of Phnom Penh, lined by the waterways that run all through the city. As he developed the lodging, Hébrard mixed French-provincial styles with local architectural impacts. This made a boom in the international travel industry reach a sudden end in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge came to power. The inn acquired another lease in 1996 when refurbishes started under the management of Raffles International Limited. The architect destroyed the neighbouring bungalows, supplanting them with three new, more significant wings, and additionally changed the first floor plans for both the fundamental structure and the studio condos, just leaving the first design for the guestrooms flawless. After its wide redesign, Raffles Hotel Le Royal restarted on 24 November 1997. Moving toward years of history, it remains Phnom Penh’s most elevated hotel.

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Phnom Penh’s Central Market_©Wikipedia

After the independence from France, began of New Khmer Architecture movement started in Cambodia. A leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk won the elections in 1955 and desired to lead Cambodia and made all efforts to modernize the country in all aspects, be it agriculture, industry, health care, infrastructure, education, art, and tourism. By this time new traditions influenced by foreign architecture were adopted to tackle the heat. Structures are raised on columns to generate natural cooling effects, open shaded social spaces, double walls, and roofs to detach direct sunlight.

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Supreme Court, former National Assembly building_©Wikipedia

The East of Cambodia was seriously hit by American bombarding with towns, Kampong Cham and Kampot, including their universities and infirmaries, being annihilated, and numerous New Khmer Architecture structures in Phnom Penh and other regions endured the long periods of war and decimation strikingly flawless. Tragically, ruthless radicalism and the ongoing time of high economic development are ending up in a lot more danger. The Preah Suramarit National Theater, to some degree, burned in 1994. Structures of the 1950s and 1960s, yet in addition, structures from the provincial time frame are undermined. Numerous structures worked during the period are in unfortunate shape. The National Sports Complex is particularly powerless. Even though it is still in regular use, a new “renovation” was very shallow. A couple of structures in style are in great shape and routinely utilized; the Chamkarmon Compound, Chaktomuk Conference Hall, and Chenla Theater. Right now, there are a few gatherings, basically, outsiders, who are attempting to bring issues to light with the end goal of saving the excess locales. A new generation of Cambodian design understudies is additionally mindful of the circumstance.


Wikipedia Contributors (2019). History of Cambodia. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: (n.d.). Periods and Styles. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

Indochina Voyages. (2014). Kompong Krei, the bridge connecting ancient and modern times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

Wikipedia Contributors (2022). Central Market (Phnom Penh). [online] Wikipedia. Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

Wikipedia. (2021). Hotel Le Royal. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

Anon, (n.d.). Cambodian Architecture – Ancient Khmer Architecture • Cambodia Travel. [online] Available at:

Wikipedia. (2022). New Khmer Architecture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

Phnom Penh Real Estate. (2021). Colonial Architecture in Cambodia. [online] Available at:

Wikipedia. (2022). New Khmer Architecture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

Wikipedia. (2020). Khmer architecture. [online] Available at:


Riya is an architectural designer, planner and thinker, currently working in New Delhi. She believes having a delightful livable environment irrespective of the area is what everybody must-have, since part of human psychology effects by what we see and what we feel by our senses.