By: Mr.Sovanna , 10 October 2015
By nature, there is often a contradictory between the development and conservation perspective. In the context of urban development, this contradictory has often happened especially to the old buildings which are rich in history. Both of them have their own reasons and values to argue. A debate happens, accordingly. While some people view them as the area to develop, for example, for the economic benefits of the city, some fight to reserve the buildings to keep their history alive.
Particularly in Phnom Penh, recently there is news about the relocation of the Royal University of Fine Art, and it is one of the close cases to the issue discussed above. In the meantime, while the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has announced for the relocation of the university, many reactions have been responded by the students who are studying at the university.
According to the officials, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has had a plan to expand the border of the National Museum, located next to the University. This results in a must to relocate the Royal University of Fine Arts to give more space for the increasing visitors to walk around the National Museum while the new campus for the university will be constructed by the government budget in Chroy Changvar peninsula, the land offered by the City Hall. Additionally, the new campus will also offer bigger spaces and more buildings needed by the University.
However, to many students at the university, they have argued that the buildings in this school are among the oldest buildings in the city and would become 100 years old by 2016. They have their own historical value which is priceless while the value has also become the inspiration of many students who have studied there.
Mr. Sean Sopheak who is a year 3 student at the university said that he had been studying in this school for three years. He loved the school and its old artistic architectural buildings. He would not want to leave this to the new campus. He added, “Though the National Museum might have to be expanded, it may not necessarily consume all the area of the University while the new campus can still be constructed for more glasses and buildings for the university to operate.”
Another Architecture student, Mr. Borey, has similarly addressed his intention for the school not to be relocated. He said it would be a lot more inconvenience for all the students who will have to travel across Chroy Chongva bridge to go to school to study and do their research every day. He continued, “If there is an option, I would prefer to keep the school as where it is.”
In contrast, Ms. Chorvy, who is also a student at the university, stressed that if all the old buildings would be reserved and used for the benefits of the National Museum, and the new campus is big enough with good environment for the students, she is fine with the relocation.
Meanwhile, like Ms. Chorvy, Mr. Leangchay has expressed his agreement with the relocation with conditions. He said that he was not a student at the Royal University of Fine Arts, and he knew it would be difficult for students to drive across the bridge to go to school every day. However, if the relocation is truly for the interest of the National Museum while its old buildings will be kept to use by the National Museum for a different purpose like RUFA’s director, Mr. Bong Savath, has assured, he would agree for the relocation of the school.
It is worth noticing that in 2005, there was also the restructure to move a few departments of the Royal University of Fine Arts to Russei Keo, Phnom Penh Thmei Commune. Unfortunately, the statistic says the number of students enrolled for the academic year decreased considerably.