Siem Reap, Aranh
‘Phteah Rong Doeng’ style house
Khmer merchant’s residence c.1910; renovated, 2009-2010
house on present site from 2010
original location: this house in an extremely dilapidated condition was originally sited on the east bank of the Siem Reap river about 5km south of the city at Aranh village just off the road that leads to the great Tonle Sap lake at Phnom Krom.
present location: Spean Chreav village, Siem Reap commune, Siem Reap-Angkor, Siem Reap province
transported distance: approximately 2.5km
time to relocate & renovate: approximately 7 months (2009-2010)
transport details: after discussion with architect Hok Sokol, we resolved to purchase the frame of the house (the remaining columns and structural supports were enough to retain the elegant proportions. once disassembled, the house was moved in entirety on a small flat-bed truck by carpenters under the direction of Hok Sokol. the journey of only some 2.5km inland was to a new site at Spean Chreav village where it was restored and re-sited on new land.
dimensions: 12.1m length x 6.4m width x 6.8m height (attached kitchen: 6.4m x 3.3m x 5.1m)
architectural details: standing on 20 hardened wooden columns that were embedded directly into the bank surrounded by broken tiles and sand, the house had withstood countless floods, but was nearing the end of its some 100-year life. then abandoned, it had previously been rented to a Khmer family in the early 2000s; after their departure, dry rot was reducing the floor boards to danger level and one entire wall had been removed, exporting the interior to the elements. the attached kitchen (additional 4 side columns) was without a floor; on rickety supports and with a heavy tile roof; it was close to total collapse. a ‘house for sale’ sign and telephone number sparked interest in the architectural remains.
an extant doorway and some window frames and shutters provided style models for exact duplication.
master-craftsmen who had earlier worked on my Hanchey house (2006-2007), were re-employed under direction of Sokol to completely renovate the house; substituting new columns for those damaged by insects and rot, entirely replacing the floors in both kitchen and main house, re-roofing the main room (cleaned and reused old roof-tiles were replaced on the kitchen). extant doorways and windows were repaired and replaced and served as models for profile mouldings, as did sections of original wall boards, which were individually grooved. the missing eastern wall of the house was copied in entirety and replaced. the original northern entrance to the house was reopened with new steps and an exterior wood slat walkway to link front door with a newly fitted kitchen installed.
the house is sited on a raised brick platform, with new carved stone column bases seated on short, square brick columns to reestablish original floor height. several Cambodian hardwoods are used in this house, but the principal cladding & structure is of koki (Hopea odorata Roxb).
furnished in keeping with original style; it is accessed by two newly-constructed wooden staircases. original roof tiles are used on the kitchen with newly-fired, locally produced earthenware tiles from the nearby town of Domdek used to cover the main house.
supervising architect: Hok Sokol