Cambodia gained independence from the French in 1953. After winning their independence, one of the major priorities was to develop Phnom Penh City. Many Cambodian architects who had studied abroad came home to build the capital city with the support of King Norodom Sihanouk.
It is remarkable that Chaktomuk is the confluent point of four rivers. This special feature caused the city to be built here after Oudong City to provide protection for the city dams, which were erected to prevent floods.
The regeneration of Phnom Penh took into account infrastructure such as the sewage and utility systems. Special areas were created for public buildings such as the Borey Keila Building.
The first major regeneration of Phnom Penh started in the Tonle Basac Area with construction of new houses and public areas. There were only plateau areas around the Tonle Sap and the west side of the city was below river level. The River Front was set as the early development area because, as a plateau, it could set an example for the whole city.
During the 50s and 60s, Phnom Penh had a total population of less than 400,000 people but was considered one of the most advanced cities in Southeast Asia in terms of creative urban planning. Van Molyvann, an internationally renowned architect, designed the Master Plan of Phnom Penh City.
The basic idea of the regeneration plan was to build substantial modern buildings using traditional Khmer architecture blended with the French style.
The key buildings, constructed in that era, were Chacktomuk Conference Hall, Tonle Bassac Theater, Independence Monument, the Olympic Stadium, stylish houses, and other public buildings. They can be found on Phnom Penh’s heritage list.