An architect concocts his tropical dream house in Cambodia
BY NAOMI LINDT
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA — As a young Cambodian architect in the 1960s, Borath Ros never imagined it would take nearly half a century before he would build his tropical dream house. Nor would he have predicted that his son and daughter would help him design it.
Mr. Ros was a student during the height of the modernist, Le Corbusier-inspired, concrete-enamored movement known as New Khmer Architecture, which established Cambodia as a regional beacon of urban design in the decade after the country's independence from France in 1953.
But in 1972, as the Khmer Rouge were fighting to take power, Mr. Ros and his French wife, Danièle, fled Cambodia to build a life in Paris.
It would be 20 years before they would return, eventually taking up residence in 2001 in Siem Reap, the provincial town near the Angkor Wat temples, where Mr. Ros, 68, is a deputy director of Apsara, the government agency that protects the temples.
When the couple decided to build a home, Mr. Ros sought a style that would combine his influences as an adult — Mies van der Rohe and Louis Kahn — with the classic Cambodian features he recalled from childhood: a country house built on stilts and surrounded by water and lush greenery.
''In the first place, the concept was to build a house that was traditionally Khmer but with a modern interpretation,'' Mr. Ros said. ''In the second, I wanted to work as a team.''
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