A shelter for creativity in Battambang
Art Gallery, 600 sqm, Competition 2021
One of the main cities in Cambodia, Battambang has kept its traditional ethos, an exception in a quickly developing region. It is famous for its colonial center along the Sangker river, its landmark market, the Psar Nat, built in 1936 and surrounded by Chinese shophouses of the same era. The Bang, however, sits at the outskirts of the city, in an heterogeneous area, without urban cohesion. The strong constrains pertaining to the site were the opportunity to look for a new building typology. Our proposed massing is avoiding confrontation with the neighboring residential buildings.
The Bang is a respectful low rise building, lightly constructed to form a shelter within the boundary walls of the plot. This sanctuary for art is composed of a juxtaposition of programs and serene interior gardens. It is a reference to the courtyard of the National Museum, opened in 1920. Three horinzontal programmatic strips maximize efficiency and interface betweens users, while offering a very flexible space. The office programs and artist residence are on the sides, while a central gallery serves as a shared public space, developped over three sequences: at the entrance, an event space serves as a flexible multifunction area open to the street while at the center, an interior garden will host a permanent collection of sculptures and at the end, a temporary exhibition space is connected to an artist residence.
Cambodia’s landscape is characterized by its flatness. The roof of the Bang signifies its presence and autonomy by a high curved roof, which shape enhances the continuity of the internal spaces. In a country like Cambodia, having a large roof area is the opportunity to create an energy positive building using the solar power. Wrapped with wooden screens reminescent of the colorful colonial shutters of Battambang, the gallery´s envelopp functions as a lantern at nightime, and forms a climatic buffer allowing natural ventilation while protecting from sun and rain. This construction is intended to be cost efficient using local skills. Instead of fighting the Cambodian sun, we filter it and allow it inside the building, following principles developped by the New Khmer Architecture. The screens of the lantern are made of small profile of local wood. Minimizing building weight and allowing the use of shallow fondations, the light metal structure offers capacity for evolution over time, as well as an impression of weightlessness, in contrast with its surrounding. The building hybridizes local crafts with a conscious use of industrial materials.
Antoine Meinnel / Bloom Architecture Co. Ltd.
Team: Antoine Meinnel, Nong Demy, Ban Rithy, Heng Sereyvathana