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Thursday, 28 May

Remembering the Killing Fields

The end of the 1970s saw many atrocities committed in countries around the world, yet the massacre of almost a third of Cambodia's people is perhaps the darkest of that era.

Figures of how many died at the hands of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge may never be known – some estimate it was as much as 2 million – but the planned Sleuk Rith Institute is an ambitious attempt to focus attention on a period that became known as The Killing Fields.

The London based Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, had her design accepted as a museum, research centre, graduate school, document archives and research library accepted by the Cambodian government at time of reporting (October 2014). Zaha Hadid died in 2016. The concept had been the driving force for Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) who has been responsible for an archive that has detailed the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime from 1975 to 1979.

The building will be in the capital, Phnom Penh, and the Cambodian government has donated the land. Zaha Hadid had set out to replicate the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat with its five towers and is not of her usual style. “It is the first time we have used wood, to create a warmer, softer mood, and in time it will weather and take on a more a natural-looking feel,” she stated.

Zaha Hadid is a controversial figure, having previously been the architect for countries with a human rights record that is, at the very least, questionable. She designed the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan and most recently, the World Cup stadium in Qatar.

The cost of the Sleuk Rith Institute will be $35 million and will be met by a fundraising campaign with some money already being committed by USAID. 


Pictured: The Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia will be a focal point for studies on genocide in the region.


Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid DBE RA was an Iraqi-British architect. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. To visit the Sleuk Rith Institute website - Click Here

Article written by Mike Gannon


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