When the community of Sra Pou, Cambodia was relocated from the city of Phnom Penh to the countryside, their new home was severely lacking in basic infrastructure, a secure environment and a sustainable means of income. Without a way to support themselves, the community was languishing. So when Hilla Rudanko and Anssi Kankkunen traveled to Cambodia during the Spring of 2010 as part of an Aalto University design studio class, they designed this school to help the village. At first, the concept was just a class project, but the duo were encouraged to pursue the project and even landed enough funding to make it happen.
The vocational school is a two-story, open air structure built from locally sourced, handmade, sun-dried red bricks, which reflect the color of the surrounding landscape. Bricks were laid with a hole pattern in the walls to pull in more daylight as well as encourage natural ventilation through the space. Bright and colorful handmade shutters can be opened or closed to block out the sun, but also make the center cheery and welcoming. A large covered porch creates an outdoor community room, while the interior holds workshops, storage space and bathrooms.
The entire project was built by local laborers who received training on the job, and now a local non-profit operates out of the building and is teaching villagers how to earn a living. Sra Pou Vocational School also serves as a space for public gathering and community decision making. The results of the duo’s work are not only the amazing community center and school, but they also began their own architecture firm – Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen, and we are looking forward to more of their work. The firm is also part of a Finnish architecture humanitarian NGO called Ukumbi.
Images ©Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen