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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Architects group, code in pipeline

Architects group, code in pipeline

Steps seen as key elements to raising bar in profession

Cambodia's first Architects' Association is expected to be given the green light before the end of this year following the approval of bylaws governing its operations.

The association will be responsible for ensuring compliance with a new Code of Architecture also being drafted by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and representatives from the architecture community, Lao Tip Seiha, director of the ministry's Construction Department, said.

A key goal of the bylaws and associated code is to boost professionalism among the Kingdom's architects, but it also aimed at protecting intellectual property rights and promoting originality in design, he said. "We want architects to stop copying each other's plans."

A lot of buildings in Cambodia have been built to low standards.

Nhim Chanthan, 43, who has owned his own architecture firm for more than 20 years, welcomed the proposed code, saying that preventing the theft of design ideas is important for the development of architecture in Cambodia.
"I want the law to be passed as soon as possible," he said.
"I am already preparing to register to become a member of the Cambodian Architects Association."

ASEAN Association
Under the bylaws, which do not need Council of Ministers approval, all architects will need to register with the Architects Association and the Ministry of Land Management and show they have been practising for at least seven years. It was not clear if architects not registered with the association could be prevented from practising.

Lao Tip Seiha added that the law would pave the way for Cambodian architects to be recognised across the ASEAN region under the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Architectural Services, which was signed in November 2007.

"All ASEAN countries need to have these architecture codes, and some have implemented them already," he said.
"Now we are preparing to introduce the bylaw so that we, too, can be a member of the ASEAN group of architects."

A welcome plan
Architect Sim Sitho, who is assisting on the ministry bylaw, said a lack of advanced qualifications meant Cambodian architects find it difficult to work abroad. The planned code is a key step in redressing that, she said.

Three ministry representatives and two independent architects are leading a working group of around 80 people drafting the bylaws and architect code, she added.

Happiness City Project Manager Chhean Dara, an engineer, said the new association and architects code was essential to lift standards among Cambodia's architecture profession.

"Now, it is very messy in the construction field," he said.

"A lot of buildings in Cambodia have been built to low standards because architects and engineers do not respect the profession."
Bernard Wouters, the senior design manager of architecture at Archetype, called the drafting of the code "a positive move".

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NATHAN GREEN

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