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Contest challenges students to design new houses for evictees

Contest challenges students to design new houses for evictees

ARCHITECTURE students went head-to-head this month in a competition that called on them to create housing designs for a site in Dangkor district that is currently home to more than 1,200 families following a large-scale forced eviction in 2006.

More than 1,000 police officers, many of whom were armed and wearing riot gear, descended on the Sambok Chap slum in central Phnom Penh in June 2006 to evict the families, who were sent to Andong village in Dangkor’s Trapang Krasang commune, located some 25 kilometres from the city centre.

In the competition, which entered the judging phase on March 4 and concluded on Friday, eight designs were submitted by students from the Royal University of Fine Arts, the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Pannasatra University and Cambodia Mekong University.

The designs for the competition, hosted by the housing rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, were required to fit a 5-metre-by-12-metre plot of land, and the cost of the materials, which were provided by Habitat for Humanity, could not exceed US$1,000.

“The principal point that we’re trying to make with this is that you can design and build [a house] … for an affordable price,” said Nora Lindstrom, an adviser for STT.

The winning design was created by Chao Kankanika and Nen Limhout, both of whom are in their third year at Pannasatra University. Their design, the materials for which cost $872.40, will be be used to build a home for a family living in Trapang Krasang.

Lindstrom said that before the contest, the architecture students “had never been to a relocation site”, adding that one of the goals of the competition was to encourage them to think about designing “not just for the rich but for the poor in their society”.

Hennu Kjisik, a professor at the University of Helsinki in Finland who served as a judge in the competition, echoed this view, saying: “It is important to have studies such as these, because the people that need housing such as this can’t afford to pay a team of architects, yet they make up the majority of the world’s population.”