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Phnom Penh to Transform Abandoned Ship Into Floating Arts Center

Phnom Penh is about to get a new attraction in an old, deteriorating boat.

Thanks to local residents Dana Langlois and Alexis de Suremain, an 80-meter-long vessel moored on the Tonle Sap River will be getting a new lease on life as the pair make plans to transform the decrepit boat into a floating arts center, reports the Cambodia Daily.

Spread over 6,000 square meters and five storeys, the boat will feature art galleries, studios, theaters, rehearsal rooms and event spaces that aim to connect the community with local artists. According to de Suremain, who owns a hospitality management company, the project is about not only opening a new space but also fostering new endeavors in the Cambodian capital.

“I’m always trying to come up with ideas to increase the attractiveness of both our places [de Suremain's company operates several hotels in the city] and the destination as a whole,” he told the Cambodia Daily.

The boat, which has sat empty on the Tonle Sap for several years, is owned by a French-Cambodian businessman and remains safe to use, though it's definitely a fixer-upper: the vessel lacks both electricity and plumbing.

Still, with the help of UNESCO, which has agreed to provide non-financial support for the project, Langlois and de Suremain hope to transform the vessel into a place for innovation.

“For me, the heart and soul of the whole thing has to do with what I’m calling the creative hub,” Langlois told the Cambodia Daily. It is an entire floor that is dedicated to inciting creativity: artist studios, international residencies, projects spaces.”

The pair is currently fundraising for the center and aims to open its doors by mid-2016.

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