Architect Hiroyuki Suzuki, who passed away on February 3 in Tokyo, was one of a handful of independent experts who work in the background in the Angkor Archeological Park so that the highest standards are maintained in monument restoration.
“Professor Suzuki was passionate about research in architecture and we had with him numerous intellectual debates on the notion of authenticity in architectural conservation,” said Anne Lemaistre, country representative for Unesco in Cambodia.
“He was always in favor of minimum interventions to preserve as much as possible the architectural authenticity of the Angkor temples,” she said.
Hiroyuki Suzuki died aged 68 in a Tokyo hospital due to pneumonia. He had taught for more than three decades at the University of Tokyo, and then served as professor of architecture history at Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan.
In 1996, Hiroyuki Suzuki became one of three conservation experts who formed the Ad Hoc Group of Experts at the Coordinating Committee of Angkor (ICC)—the international committee overseeing Angkor park with the Apsara Authority, the Cambodian-government agency in charge of Angkor.
“It should be stressed that the ad hoc experts are entirely independent,” said Kerya Chau Sun, Apsara Authority’s spokesperson. Working as unpaid volunteers, these experts visit conservation sites at Angkor, analyzing the approach and techniques that restoration teams are planning to use or are already using, and making recommendations to the ICC as to their soundness, she said.
At times, these experts will not mince words when they feel that a team’s approach may damage a monument. Still, this was a task that Hiroyuki Suzuki managed well, Ms. Lemaistre said. “He was a hard worker, humble and very kind with everyone while remaining faithful to his commitment to safeguarding Angkor,” she said.
After serving 12 years on the ICC expert committee, Hiroyuki Suzuki stepped down for health reasons in 2008.
Among other accolades, he received the Japan Prize of the Society of Architecture Historians and Japan’s Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon for his service to scholarship.
© 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.