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FACTORY PHNOM PENH

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Completed 2018

5Ha - Office / Retail / Cultural

DEZEEN Awards 2019 _ LONGLISTED

Digital publication: DesignBoom / Lonely Planet

BLOOM coordinated the refurbishment of 5 acres of garment factories from the 60s to be converted into a new social hub which would house cultural event spaces, cafés and offices for the city of Phnom Penh. The project being based on a 5-year lease, the investment had to be cost efficient and the construction duration was only 3 months.

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The aim was to create a found industrial space that intentionally feels like a blank canvas which is capable of adapting to its user’s personal expression, creativity and networking. A quality which only a few designers and project have been able to achieve, such as the Palais de Tokyo by Lacaton Vassal and MASP by Lina Bo Bardi, to name a few.

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" The aim was to create a found industrial space that intentionally feels like a blank canvas which is capable of adapting to its user’s personal expression, creativity and networking."

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The objective was to retain the look and feel of a shed that the structure inherently possessed. Superimposition of another design layer would have been an injustice to the potential of existing elements.

Hence, we decided to expose the existing hardwood structure and play with the aesthetic of the cement floor to express the spatial qualities of the main shed.

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The material palette is based on neutral industrial materials such as concrete, cement blocks, cement tiles and corrugated steel sheets, crafted in a bespoke manner. Some furniture and windows are made locally in wood to complement the solid hardwood structures.

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The entire project is based on the freedom one seeks for in a space which is capable of adapting to their needs. Repurposing an industrial space of that scale in Cambodia was a first of its kind.

 

Therefore, BLOOM’s strategy was based on preservation of the existing structure while also providing a newer language to express them. What gathered would then be offered to creative new tenants.

The design was to cover just the operational needs and emphasize the DNA of the found space to turn it into a maker’s space. 

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To fit the modest budget, we redefined the purpose of industrial building spaces to know what to convert them into. For instance, the sewing hall was repurposed for coworking space, owing of its size. Since the existing roof allowed the space under it to be naturally lit and ventilated, it was used for housing the common areas. This left only a cluster of smaller office and quiet rooms in the café which would then have AC.

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By creating adaptable yet inexpensive spaces, we allow for uses which would otherwise be difficult to be curated in a more standardized space. 

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Unlike BLOOM’s previous works, this was a hands-on project where we were largely required on site to work hand in hand with the local contractors in order to build something unique within a very tight timeframe.

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The project stands as an instance for the Cambodian youth to invent a creative new future within the old buildings.

 

We hope the project inspires its users to invent within its spaces an understanding of places with innovation while they enjoy the freedom and possibilities the very open setup of  The Factory offers to them.    

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Antoine Meinnel / Bloom Architecture Co. Ltd.

Team: Antoine Meinnel, Lim Kong, Sovannarith Ith, Hun Panha, Lea Lederer (intern), Ou Socheat (intern)

Builder: Urban Cambo Builder Co. Ltd.

Lighting designer: Lutz Madstadt / LK lighting

Artisan workers of timber and furnitures: Tommy / PI SOR