The Maison du Cambodge was constructed thanks to a donation from the Royal Cambodian government in 1950. It was inaugurated in 1957 after the Cambodian independence, proclaimed in 1953 in the presence of president René Coty and Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
From the 1970s, the civil war in Cambodia disturbed the Cambodian student community in Paris. In 1973 there were violent incidents against the house’s residents. When they became uncontrollable the building was closed. It didn’t reopen its doors until thirty years later.
Left to rot for thirty years it was very run down. In April 2001, an agreement was signed between the Kingdom of Cambodia, the chancellery of the universities of Paris and the Cité internationale about its restoration. The latter, as the contracting authority, collected the necessary funding and managed the restoration. The work carried out by the architect Patrick Magendie allowed for a 60% increase in the number of rooms by recouping available space on the ground floor from the former boiler rooms and empty sanitary facility. Today the house has 221 rooms (173 comfortable rooms and 48 studies) as well as 7 triplexes.
The building was designed by the French architect Alfred Audoul. He combined the founding country’s culture with the distinctive traits of neoclassicism in the 50s by opting for a classical U-shaped building that was enriched with decorative Khmer elements. Asia is evoked in the striated foundations in horizontal bands that recall the Angkor temples and in the granite sculptures of the monkey god, Anuman.