43 classrooms, 3600 sqm
This 43 classrooms school was commissioned by the French Nongovernmental Organization “pour un sourire d’enfant” (PSE) in the south part of their campus. This NGO started shortly after Cambodia reopened its border around 1995 with the aim of providing Cambodian kids living in the dump of Steung Meanchey a chance at education. It has since then successfully expended to a Campus offering 7000 students from poor background from all over Cambodia the possibility to study various careers sponsored by various European donors.
Since recent times the campus faces two issues linked due to the rapid development of Steung Manchey, now a part of Phnom Penh center : on one hand, escalading land prices causing the necessity for a more efficient land use within the campus, on the other floods caused by the lack of storm water management and the concreting of surrounding grounds.
Hence the overall strategy was to densify the built structure, maintaining a maximum height of three floors, allowing the buildings to stay below the trees canopy. accessible and with a strong visual relation to the external spaces. The reduced footprint generates interconnected courtyard with green recreational areas which can serve to drain storm water naturally and through the use of below ground stormwater tanks.
The plot of land for the South Field School was the first plot of land ever used by PSE and the old Khmer house present on the site, although they are not structurally sound anymore, have an historical value for PSE. We proposed an architecture which not only try to preserve the village scale of the Campus but also reclaims the wood of the former facades in order to relate to the original situation in terms of materials.
Replacing a series of one two story wooden structures, we proposed to organize around a generous central courtyard a three stories L-shape main building and a two stories annex which in continuity the existing student house.
The materials used within the school are natural and long lasting and as cost efficient as possible, for example we promoted the use of local terracotta floor and roof tiles and paint and skim coat were avoided by using an exposed render. Some part of the façade will use reclaimed wood from the original buildings. This wood will be charred in an attempt to resist the sun and the termites. The external play area will be composed of a compacted red laterite ground which colors will play with the natural soil color of the façade render and high trees to provide shade.
In complementarity with a water retention tank, the courtyard solution will serve to solve the storm water issue, delaying the need to send the water to the public water system during a storm by allowing to keep it on site for some time. This configuration could be repeated in the future to densify the campus to an acceptable maximum. The series of green courtyard will provide a serene environment for the children to learn, a green haven contrasting with the busy city of Phnom Penh.
Antoine Meinnel / Bloom Architecture Co. Ltd.
Team: Antoine Meinnel, Robin Leonard, Khoan Pengly, Mao Menchhorng, Sov Kikheang, Kong Lim