is basic here but it doesn't matter. Each builder (or farmer) builds with a
sense of craft and pride in their work when not crouching in the shade to avoid
the intense heat. The piercing omnipresent sun enforces this- it is just too
hot to work for prolonged spells. But progress does find its own tranquil pace
and things get done. The real energy filters from the children learning in
their noisy classrooms around the perimeter of the dusty school compound, a
beautiful space pinned by two large drooping trees that filter the overhead
we are expanding lies at the south east corner of Khyuang village where the
surrounding landscape is defined by a patchwork of paddy fields. It is flat as
far as the eye can see punctuated only by distant trees, roaming white cattle
and the occasional farmer. Fledgling rice plants create bands of green that
enrich the view even further.
horizon is captured in the design of the new school building with the windows
and doors framing these distant views. Two classroom blocks are separated in
pairs creating a central open bay with a sunken oval meeting place. These
openings serve to draw through air providing respite from the searing heat of
school building provides three new classrooms and a library using a repeating
3.6 square planning module. The central bay works as a covered external space
faced by the library and a classroom with the sunken ellipse at its centre
where the immaculately dressed school children in white shirts and navy skirts
and trousers can sit, rest and play.
around the village is quick and reveals a traditional house typology where
individual homes are raised off the ground, typically by a storey, to avoid the
heavy summer monsoon downpours with a prominent stair leading to living
accommodation above. The dusty area below accommodates all sorts: chickens, the
statutory Honda 50 moped, cattle, dogs (but no cats), and provides space for
the essentials of washing, cleaning and storage.
colourful with deep tones of rich red, blue and green. It is unfortunate more
recent metal cladding additions look decidedly out of place in stark colours
but hopefully weathering will tone these down in time. Doors and window
shutters typically have a contrasting vibrant colour often chalk blue, lime
green or mustard yellow.
brick in Cambodia is a red clay 175 x 85 x 85 module with four distinctive one
inch circular holes through its centre. It presents a number of design
opportunities to create patterns through different bonds, the filtering of
light and drawing air through its characteristic four holes- a curious reminder
of Anthony Gormley's 'Field' installation in the 1990's. There is an expectation
that the brick be rendered otherwise it can be construed as unfinished however,
deployed creatively and laid with greater attention to the pointing its
inherent base qualities undeniably add interest and character.
of the roof steelwork, welded up on bamboo poles in the school yard, is crude.
A specialist worker known as Monkeyman crouches with an arc welder to create
the roof trusses from right-angled section. At the same time he tends to his
colourful pet cockerel who dances inside a small dome enclosure made from
comes into his own as the steel trusses are hauled into position onto the
concrete frame tip-toeing along the ring beam and arc-welding connections and
attempting to drill holes with an archaic Bosch hammer drill. NYPD style sun
glasses a size too big for his small face are at least some protection to the
fierce arc light.
Principal occasionally strolls his compound taking what appears to be a cursory
interest in the school build. His demeanour though perhaps not reflective of a
Principal about to receive a new school building but more likely a show of
the new building sits at the edge of Khyuang where the school compound meets
the vast open expanse of paddy fields. Doors and windows are painted a fresh
green referencing the young rice plant shoots and complimenting the red brick
wall panels as the landscape blends with the village boundary. Square coloured
panels on the doors identify the individual classrooms and library for the
school children, only becoming visible when the doors are opened up each
morning at sunrise.
intuitive building technique has been demonstrated by Monkeyman perched high on
a pair of roof trusses that were hauled up with little more than a few lengths
of thick string (to reduce lifting weight the trusses are welded together
in-situ). G-clamps would be a luxury here so instead a stick is wound through a
rope to clamp the steel together and the weld completed.
matter of weeks the Khyuangchan community will have a new school building to
provide desperately needed space to educate the volume of children in the
village. It is the individual stories woven into the build that makes it all so