Demolition crews are set to begin tearing down the Phnom Penh landmark known as the White Building today, after the Ministry of Land Management announced on Saturday that all families residing in the dilapidated structure had left the premises.
Ministry spokesman Seang Lot said the 492 families had accepted compensation packages, making room for the start of demolition by a local contractor hired by Japanese firm Arakawa.
While the ministry had originally said that there were 493 families residing in the building, Lot clarified that one apartment had been empty. He added that nearby residents and vendors were at no threat from the demolition, which would not involve the use of explosives but only excavators.
“The company is specialised and will ensure the safety of the people around and will work with the local authorities,” he said.
The structure will be replaced by a new 21-storey mixed use building that will be constructed for around $70 million.
The former home of many artists, and a source of inspiration for creatives, the White Building was the setting on Friday of a photo shoot by arts organisation Cambodian Living Arts.
Phloeun Prim, the group’s executive director, said they wanted to replicate a photo they had snapped in 2005 with the same group of artists on a stairwell to commemorate the last days of the structure.
“When we started having classes and training people in Phnom Penh, the White Building was our starting point,” he said.