TOP 10: Architecture Photography Challenge in Phnom Penh


Raintree’s Away Day last month marked our inaugural Architecture Photography Challenge, celebrating the architecture and design of the capital.
Working with so many innovators and creatives in our community, our design process often starts with a conversation on what inspires us. Many young architects pull up beautiful images from the world of Google, from the lofty skyscrapers of New York, to impressive renaissance masterpieces of Paris. But why should all our inspiration come from digital libraries and screensaver experiences, depicting far-removed developed markets? We believe incredible architectural inspiration is right on our doorstep. Phnom Penh in its heyday gained reputation as the ‘Pearl of Asia’ for its planning and modernist architecture movement, under the leadership of Prince Sihanouk. Dubbed by academics as ‘New Khmer Architecture’, the period blended modern techniques and materials with Cambodian tradition. Led by prominent Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann, he designed many of the country’s most ambitious and renowned public projects during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime (1955–1970). One of his most remarkable works is the Olympic National Sports Complex inaugurated in 1964, which provided the international stage for several significant events such as the GANEFO Games, welcoming foreign leaders and many more.

Raintree - architecture photography - Royal Phnom Penh University

Architecture Photography Challenge: the Away Day and photo competition
That’s why for our summer ‘Away Day’ this year, we collaborated with Khmer Architecture Tours to get out of the office and experience our landmarks first-hand, as well as spurring our own creative learning. The first edition of the Challenge included a guided architecture walk in Phnom Penh comprising two sessions - the Molyvann Masterpieces and the French Colonial Craze. Participants took to the city streets, testing their aesthetic abilities and photographing their favourite architectural perspectives. More than just an educational day out, Team Raintree launched the annual Architecture Photography Challenge, where participants competed to produce the best architectural photographs of the sites visited. “Raintree’s mission is to support creative industries through building community, and we believe in starting small with fun and interactive experiences like this that can build to have large positive impact on our organisations” said co-founder Zoë Ng. Sharing a vision of building communities through inspirational spaces, Raintree and sister companies Urbanland Asia and HKA & Partners designed the Challenge to develop a deeper appreciation for our national architecture, as well as showcasing the talent of our community residents.

Raintree - architecture photography - Institute of Foreign Language

Frames & Beers: the awards night celebrating our talented photographers
After a fun-filled day of architectural shooting, participants submitted their best photos taken during the tour. From our incredibly talented community, the judging committee received over 800 photograph submissions!! These 800 were shortlisted to 300, to 150, to 25 and finally to the top 10 selected by our independent panel featuring Pen Sereypagna, Director of The Vann Molyvann Project. To honour the inaugural winners, we hosted a celebratory evening - Frames & Beers - not only revealing the winning photographers and their images, but also encouraging dialogue on perceptions of Cambodian design. Co-founder Hok Kang added, “I feel the space with all five senses and take the time to absorb the glorious three-dimensional forms. Only then can you really say that you've seen a building”. The evening welcomed a roster of esteemed guests and partners, fuelled by plenty of beer and laughter.

Photo courtesy of    Kampucheers

Photo courtesy of Kampucheers

The TOP 10:  the winning photos that challenge perspectives on Phnom Penh
Light, lines, symmetry, and details, were just some of the selection criteria for the winning photographs from the challenge. The submissions not only considered composition and balance, but inspired reflection on the subject itself. We’re thrilled to announce that the top 10 images will be exhibited at Raintree for you to enjoy, open to the public from 18th September. You can check out the full list of winners below. 

Share this architecture news with friends and anyone that’s interested in photography or design, or just curious to learn more about our creative collaborations. This photography challenge is one of many initiatives in our events programme, and we’re always looking for partnerships to cook up more exciting projects! Don’t forget to follow us @raintreecambodia for more creative updates and tag #raintreeworks to be featured on our channel.

Exhibition of the Top 10 will open 18th September onwards at the Raintree Lobby (GF-02)
Open daily 08:30-18:00 Monday-Friday, 08:30-12:30 Saturday
Talk to us at or +85585385728 for queries
The TOP 10 Awardees
Living Building* Award
- Vitou Sou, Architect, HKA & Partners 
Culture Vulture* Award - Sam Thik, Digital Marketing Associate, Urbanland Asia
All-in-one* Award - Mark Flores, Technical Design Manager, HKA & Partners
Pro-proportions* Award - Chandara Kov, Architect, HKA & Partners 
Instagrammer* Award - Socheata Chey, Architect Intern, HKA & Partners
Honorable mentions - Satya Seang, Architect, HKA & Partners | Michael Lee, Head of Sales and Marketing, Urbanland Asia | Charlotte Lamy, Designer, Raintree Development.

Thank you to our contributors for making this event magical: Pen Sereypagna, Director of the Vann Molyvann Project, Sim Sitou, Director of Space for Architecture Cambodia (SAC) and Khmer Architecture Tours (KA), and Vuth Danith, Independent Architect and Senior Guide at Khmer Architecture Tours (KA)

Photo courtesy of    Kampucheers

Photo courtesy of Kampucheers