Dynamic economic growth and a building boom are currently reshaping urban space in Cambodia. These processes are heavily dominated by short-term profit interests that marginalise needs-based or sustainability dimensions. Despite high local electricity prices and a long tradition of climate-mitigating vernacular architecture and urban patterns, most of the recently constructed buildings are neither energy-efficient nor adapted to the tropical climate. At the same time, the development of a modern consumer society in Cambodia is leading to more resource-intensive lifestyles. This significantly affects the way buildings are designed, built and operated. Issues of sustainability have still not been sufficiently addressed by local decision-makers and stakeholders in the construction industry, the relevant ministries, the educational institutions and building users.
To address these issues, the Build4People Project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) aims to research and promote sustainable building and urban development practices in Cambodia as well as pathways towards their realization. It has a long-term funding perspective with a project duration spread across several phases for a total of 8 years. The funding volume of the current 18-month definition phase is about 900,000 Euro.
The project team considers sustainable, people-centred urban development as a cross-cutting task. A genuinely people-centred planning system can neither be expected to “evolve by itself” nor is it feasible solely through legal regulations. Our multi-disciplinary team focuses on the alignment of people’s needs and aspirations with tools to benefit and enhance urban sustainability and people’s quality of life. We thus seek to research and support the sustainable urban transformation of Phnom Penh with positive effects on urban sustainability through more energy- and resource-efficient buildings and neighbourhoods, significantly lowered pollutant emissions, an increase of urban green, a healthier urban climate, raised awareness among decision-makers, modified behaviour among the citizens, and an overall better quality of urban life.
The research team includes Cambodian and German partners from several disciplines who cooperate on a transdisciplinary basis. Led by the University of Hamburg, the consortium brings together four universities and two SMEs from Germany and three Cambodian universities. This includes the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Royal University of Agriculture and the Cambodian Institute for Urban Studies, and School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Paññāsāstra University. Together we will research and develop innovative concepts aimed at urban sustainability that are based on scientific and regional expertise. The value of “quality of urban life” links the seven different work packages.
At the Institute for Building Energetics, Thermotechnology and Energy Storage (IGTE) of the University of Stuttgart, we are responsible for the work package “Sustainable Building” (WP#2).
The rationale and background of WP#2 are that although the construction activity is highly dynamic in Cambodia already today, the major transformation is yet to be expected. It will result in significant impacts through increased energy demand and use of resources. In the early stage of development the situation in Cambodia is unique (e.g. high energy prices, contemporary tropical design experience). Early and effective interventions in the urban and residential built environment based on evidence and transdisciplinary research of this project shall lead towards sustainable qualities in the urban context and comfortable and energy-efficient living conditions in future sustainable buildings. Thereby the functional and technological augmentation of traditional building concepts shall be developed as the preferred strategy of the transformative process.