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

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman