Panharith Ean

MArch I

Sacred Hat, Ordinary Body

Advised by Oana Stănescu

The thesis reclaims the role of a roof’s iconography to deploy as a symbol for social gathering space. The iconography of roofs has a long cultural history linked to religious structures. It symbolizes the intersection between the human and the divine.

In Cambodia, the sacred roofs of Hindu stone temples intersect the human horizontal axis and the vertical axis of the central shrine. The same principle applies to Buddhist wooden pagodas. In both cases, the horizontal axis is a procession that moves through a series of social programs: gardens, ponds, libraries, schools, and food hall. The roof not only shelters worshipping halls, but also the social infrastructure that supports the livelihood of the community. As secular buildings are derived from religious buildings, the roof becomes an icon of status and power. In the current profit-driven society, roofs become a by-product of commercialism. Especially in an urban setting, social infrastructure also suffers in this market economy. Both the symbolic significance of roofs and the quality of social infrastructure deteriorate.

Within the cultural lineage of roofs, this thesis restores the initial link between the roof and social infrastructure. It proposes social infrastructure as multifaceted urban amenities that serve the community and bond relationships between people. The thesis utilizes the monumental image of the roof as an anchor point to enable a space for social gathering.

Panharith Ean, MArch I. Full moon rising over peaked rooftops.
Panharith Ean, MArch I.
Perspective collage of the design on an existing building.
Panharith Ean, MArch I.
Perspective collage of a performance with a view towards the city.
Panharith Ean, MArch I.
Perspective collage of a reading chamber.
Panharith Ean, MArch I.
Night time perspective of the design against the city backdrop.