Alex Koller, partner in the architectural team, Lumley & Koller, winner of the 2013 Cambodia Sustainable Housing International Design Competition was anxious to view the fruition of their dream; the actual finished home in the village of Trapiang Anhchang outside Phnom Penh. He recently had his first opportunity to travel back to Cambodia to see the model house and the beneficiary family that has chosen their design.
Alex was warmly greeted by the owner of his winning design home called The Courtyard House, by Sor Vann and her family, the owner of his winning design home called The Courtyard House. He understandably took time to examine the full-scale realization of his firm’s design elements very closely. Koller readily recognized alterations to his original plan that had been made during construction in the name of materials cost or practicality. Overall he was pleased with the final product, and spoke at length with Sok Chandarith, Habitat Cambodia’s Construction Team Leader, regarding minor design changes that could be made going forward in future builds that would lead to cost savings without sacrificing design or structural elements.
To date, two of the other nine competition finalist homes (Open Embrace, and Wet-Dry) have been built in Trapiang Anhchang.
The multiple factors of working with new designs and different materials as well as the need to adapt the prototype designs to the actual building site meant that our usual approach of using Global Village volunteer team labor to assist with the house construction was not appropriate, as our Skilled Laborers needed to grow accustomed to the techniques required in constructing this new design. Additionally, some of the materials originally specified were found to be not entirely compatible with Cambodia’s monsoon climate At the present time, increasing land and materials costs have also meant that additional funding or partnerships will be needed to see the other seven homes from the competition built.
The competition was sponsored by the UK-based NGO, Building Trust International (BTI) in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Cambodia, Karuna Cambodia, and the Cambodian Society of Architects (CSA), with the 10 best designs earning the potential of being built to mark Habitat Cambodia’s 10 year anniversary. There was a tremendous response, with 600 teams from countries as far away and diverse as Iran to Nigeria submitting their design of a sustainable low-cost house for Cambodia’s poorest.
The design criteria included addressing typical SE Asia environmental factors such as the yearly flooding, which affects most of Cambodia, the use of sustainable materials, adherence to local living standards and construction practices, as well as a budget cap of $2000.
The land for the building project was purchased by Habitat Cambodia under our Chapadem Chivet Thmey (New Start New Life), or CCT program, and the construction done by our Skilled Workers. The family selection process took place in cooperation with our HIV/AIDS & OVC program partner Maryknoll.