Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Central Post Office
This post office in the heart of the French district represents a time of major change in Cambodia.
“What is impractical can never be beautiful” Austrian architect Otto Wagner once stated. He proved his statement correct when he unveiled his revolutionary design for the famous Austrian Postal Savings Bank in 1906.
Occupying an entire city block, the massive seven story structure’s simplified exterior is composed of brick and mortar with marble panels and iron bolts that seamlessly blend form and function. The utilitarian values of Otto Wagner are even more apparent in the main atrium with its massive glass skylights that flood the interior with natural light.
The inside of the bank was built with materials that emphasize durability and functionality. Wagner intended to craft a structure that required minimal daily cleaning and much less maintenance than buildings of similar size. So the marble walls were fastened by metal bolts that never needed to be painted, and the porcelain floors were laid over asphalt to create easily-cleaned, long-lasting surfaces.
The Postal Savings Bank miraculously survived World War II without damage. Today, the building remains in its original state, featuring a museum dedicated to the life and work of Otto Wagner which, we guess by his own account, he would describe as both practical and beautiful.
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