Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, but a recently completed Kouk Khleang youth center could help bring sustainable upward mobility to a community in Phnom Penh. Finnish design group Komitu Architects teamed up with Cambodian NGOs Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS) and Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights and Development Organization (KKKHRDA) to design and build an ecologically and socially sustainable youth center that teaches computer skills, languages, and vocational skills to disadvantaged youth. The eco-friendly youth center was built using locally sourced bamboo, compressed earth bricks, and recycled plastic bottles.
Community workshops and input from local architecture students and professionals played an essential role in the design of the youth center, which celebrates both the local Cambodian culture and traditional building techniques. These community workshops, lectures, and site visits even inspired the local NGO UPDF to build a community center from bamboo and organize bamboo training workshops for a network of community builders throughout Cambodia.
The Phnom Penh youth center features a concrete frame for the main load bearing structure. That frame is filled with locally produced earth bricks; the carbon footprint of an earth brick is ten times smaller than conventional bricks per mass. Bamboo was used extensively throughout the project as supporting beams, columns, and as the main elements for the screens and well-ventilated terraces. The architects also developed an illustrated Khmer-language bamboo construction guide to help locals maintain the building and apply the bamboo building techniques to future projects. The building is elevated off the ground to prevent flooding and rainwater is harvested on site.
The youth center was initiated in 2010 with major funding assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Finnish Cultural Fund and Art Council of Finland, and was completed in 2014.
Images via etenho