Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Searching for a house of smiles

Searching for a house of smiles

Searching for a house of smiles

A primary aspect of 'Hiscal' is economy of technique. Still the soul of the architect

comes to the surface when Thierry David describes his secret aim to build a nice

habitat.

"I want to build a house that brings a smile," he says. "A house where

the synthesis of forms, colors, volumes, light, ventilation, and fitting makes you

feel good. Vaulted ceilings have the ability to avoid an overburdening effect. It

is a supple element."

Last November, David started to build Agir pour le Cambodge, a social center to take

in prostitutes and street children. Located on the outskirts of Battambang, the aim

of this work of architecture was also to deliver a message. With its eight-meter

mosque-like dome, or cupola, the construction site offers vivid proof of another

advantage of mud: its adhesive capacity. "We are able to make arches, cupolas,

and vaults. You couldn't do that with cement," says David.

Vaulted ceilings have an additional advantage in that they do not need a drainage

system and are therefore perfectly suited for Cambodia's climate with months of heavy

rains, he argues.

It took David about ten years to get from the concept to reality. "Everybody

here uses concrete, columns or square bricks because it is easier to design. Of course

it was not a piece of cake," he says. This type of architecture has nothing

to do with what is constructed locally. "But can you speak about a collective

Khmer architecture? You have to go back to Angkor Wat to find a pure Khmer identity,"

he claims.

David and his team try their best to capture the Khmer spirit. Wrought-iron window

frames are manifestations of this state of mind. Apsara-shaped windows welcome visitors

and allow fresh air inside the structure.

"Phnom Penh has been invaded by concrete buildings," he observes. "The

Barangs - westerners - created the whole thing," Between the extremes of traditional

houses using wood and unplanned urbanism, Hiscal tries to forge a middle path.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four