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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dragon building roars to life

Dragon building roars to life

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Oknha Sam Ang and Madam Chhun Leang, chairman and president of Vattanac Properties Ltd, attend a topping-out ceremony yesterday to mark substantial completion of the Vattanac Capital Tower. Photograph: Chhim Sreyneang/Phnom Penh Post

Champagne greeted the movers and shakers at the highest level of Cambodia’s tallest building yesterday in a ceremony that marked substantial completion of the structure of Vattanac Capital Tower.

Designed in the shape of a dragon with particular attention to the Chinese art of placement for maximum fortune called feng shui, the 39-storey building faces the riverside with the chairman’s office in the dragon’s head.

Hosted by Oknha Sam Ang and Madam Chhun Leang, chairman and president of Vattanac Properties Ltd along with Vattanac Properties’ executive director and son Mr Sam Ang Vattanac, speeches followed a Buddhist ceremony with some of Cambodia’s important monks.

After remarks by the building’s project manager Kit Freeman, British Ambassador Mark Gooding told the crowd how delighted he was that so many British companies were involved in the new building.

“With British architects and engineers, this is a very British occasion,” Gooding said.

“The Vattanac Capital Tower symbolises British excellence and combines innovation with beauty, functionality and sustainability,” he said. “This development places Cambodia squarely on the map, and it is exciting to see this truly iconic building emerge on the Phnom Penh Skyline.”

Also on hand was Scotsman John Campbell of architects TFP Farrells along with many others making special visits for the occasion, along with Korean contractor company Posto E&C’s representatives Hyoung-Pil Kim and Yung-Kul Park.

Campbell said the tower was Korean contractor Posto’s first Cambodian job and a “massive learning curve” especially with understanding the local labour market and skills level. Campbell said of Posto: “They are doing very well.”

One of Campbell’s roles was monitoring the quality of the external façade, each unit of which is prefabricated in a factory in Shanghai.

“These are double-glazed units, solar-performing, the joints and sealants done in the factory,” Campbell said.

Fellow native of Edinburgh, Scotland, project director Julie Mackenzie, also of TEP Farrells, said the building had been originally designed by another architect.

“We came on board in early 2009 and feng shui had a big influence,” she said.

“The building shaped like a dragon for good luck. The shape of the tower, the way it curves down into the podium and the small building on the back represents the pearl on the dragon and the way the dragon faces the river is also very important. That’s why it is oriented toward the river, for good luck,” Mackenzie said.

Within the building there are no floors with the number four, no fourth or 14th or 24th, she said.

“Any building for this market has to be flexible, and you’ve got to cater for offices, serviced apartments, maybe even trading floors, which involves a lot of IT and cabling, and that all had to be designed in from day one as well.”

Mackenzie said the project was a challenge for the façade engineers.

The actual façade engineer was on hand, Nigel Lo of Ove Arup Engineering.

“The challenge was the geometry of the dragon,” Lo said. “We did 3-D modelling on computers and had the façades prefabricated in Shanghai. The main challenge was to panelise everything to that it repeats itself every time and is easier for manufacturing.” Lo is a structural engineer trained at Leeds in England.

The chairman’s son and Vattanac Properties’ executive director, Sam Ang Vattanac, said the tower had reached a height of 172.7 metres with 14.6 metres remaining of high steel structure, which will complete for a total height of 187.3 metres.

“Vattanac Capital will act as a catalyst to spur many more similar developments around Cambodia,” he said, noting that Vattanac Capital had already received a pre-certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the US Green Building Council.

He said the building would have 134,000 square metres of space including Grade A offices, luxury retail and world-class serviced apartments. “This will soon be the home of international luxury brands and companies, both locals and multi-nations,” he said.

He thanked Prime Minister Hun Sen for his leadership before inviting the crowd to ascend to the top floor where wet concrete was shovelled by important guests to “top out” the highest floor in the building, followed by champagne.

Also present were Kep Chuketema, governor of the municipality of Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mana, one of Cambodia’s most important monks, Nun Ngeth, and many other distinguished guests.

The podium area of the tower will contain 11,500 square metres of premium retail space and levels 25 to 33 will contain about 150 serviced apartments. CBRE is the sole agent for the leasing of offices at Vattanac Capital Tower. The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion at the end of this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at stuart.becker@gmail.com

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