Special recommendations on testing illumination at Angkor Wat

In step with the practice of illuminating other prestigious monuments and sites elsewhere in the world and holding “sound and light” events in them, the illumination of Angkor Wat is anticipated to be another means of enjoying this most exceptional site.

However, the experts strongly recommend that any operation of this type on a site that is so fragile must be carried out by specialists who will work in close cooperation with the conservators in charge of its protection and in keeping with the specific guidance of the ad hoc experts.

The spirit of such an undertaking should be to highlight at night what cannot be seen during the day. What is involved here is highlighting the impressive architectural masses, the surrounding vegetation and bodies of water.

ACCORDINGLY, THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE ANY POINT IN LIGHTING UP DETAILS OF BAS-RELIEFS, for instance, that can be enjoyed during daytime visits.

Issues of personal safety must also be a priority consideration, which means that illumination inside the temple and allowing people to go through the galleries ARE STRONGLY ADVISED AGAINST.

The ad hoc group of experts therefore proposes that visitor access at night be limited to one OUTSIDE thoroughfare from the causeway-dike leading to the end of the cruciform terrace, and to completely rule out any extension beyond that. This is our initial conclusion.

With regard to putting in grids, wireworks and lighting accessories, the experts feel that cannot but have a NEGATIVE physical and esthetic IMPACT, during the daytime in particular, on various parts of the monument. They therefore make the following recommendations:

  • Design any set-up so that it is completely reversible, with no encroachment on the integrity of the monument.
  • Submit in advance to an APSARA-ad hoc expert technical committee the site illumination design package that takes the above guidelines into account;
  • Ensure that the lighting material now in place on a temporary basis is removed in anticipation of the submission of the said detailed design package for the installation of wiring and spotlights.

Above all, THE TEMPLE MUST BE PRESERVED. Opening it at night may only be authorized (except for a reason of national importance) on the basis of a set of specifications that complies with norms applicable to a world heritage monument.