Cambodia will have its third architecture and design exhibition in May next year in response to the growing demand for expertly designed structures and beautiful buildings. The exhibition, organised by Thai ICV subsidiary ICVeX and the Cambodian Society of Architects, will revolve around the theme of “work place designs and a better living”.
The event will be held at the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition center from May 24 to May 26, and organisers have been eagerly inviting international firms to take part. Those participating in the event will have the chance to show off their new innovations and meet other company representatives in the sector.
“This event is not only to contribute a push forward in the construction and real estate sector in Cambodia, but also aims to create an opportunity for participants to absorb new knowledge pertaining to their profession and the development of their country by sharing information and new experiences with experts,” said Ajinveat Vhongthong, project manager for ICVeX. “The next architecture exhibition will be held in 2018 and it is expected to be very successful.”
In their 2016 Asian Development Outlook report, ADB said Cambodia is an “economic tiger of Asia” based on sharp increases in GDP per capita, which spiked from $1,302 at the end of the 2016 to $1,422 at the end of 2017.
“Nowadays, the population of people in the middle-income bracket is rising very rapidly, and their lifestyles are also shifting as well as their workplace environment,” said Hun Chansen, vice president of CSA. “The Cambodian architecture and design exhibition is the number one gathering and educational event for Cambodian people this year, since it allows them to understand the latest designs and trends. It also helps the industry to build better standards of design for living and working spaces.”
Pheoung Sorphorn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, echoed that sentiment, telling The Post that people’s lifestyles are changing and their housing choices are a reflection of that. He compared it to ancient Khmer lifestyles, saying that initially Khmer people lived in natural caves and eventually shifted to wooden homes or natural sandstone structures.
The quality of building design is instrumental in affecting how attractive and comfortable a building is, he added.
“In the olden times, our ancestors employed natural resources such as wood, soil and water as well as natural stones,” he said. “However, nowadays we use modern equipment and materials such as steel, cement, rubber and rely on electronics. Therefore this is a sort of natural progression of human beings that are in need of modern technology that provides a higher sense of security and safety.”
According to an official report from the ministry, the construction sector pulled in as much as $5.5 billion in investment money during the first nine months of 2017, a 22% increase compared to the same period last year.
Most of the money was invested into huge commercial buildings, office buildings, supermarkets, factories and condominiums. Prach Minea, managing director of entertainment company Momiza, said the construction sector is expanding at a rapid pace.
“It also makes us worry about the future, seeing all of the high-rise buildings under construction today. They don’t have a lot of Cambodian designs and since most developers are foreigners, they just choose the designs left over from their country and build it here instead,” he said.
“These new buildings will mostly showcase foreign designs, especially designs from China. The ministry is making an effort to press developers into integrating more Cambodian architecture into the mix, but the results have hardly been effective,” he added. “Indeed, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction is currently drafting up this law, but it seems like the government is a bit behind compared to the private sector that has already completed buildings and will complete more by the time the law is issued.”
Nevertheless, Minea agreed that new constructions will always benefit the economy.
“A flourishing construction sector means that there will be more jobs for students majoring in construction, architecture and design, which will boost the employment rate to nearly 100%, not to mention the countless construction workers having work due to overwhelming demands,” he said.
The construction material sector will also benefit from the construction boom despite the heavy use of imported materials.
“We have some local materials produced and distributed such as cement, bricks, sand, rocks and stones,” Minea said.
“Only recently, a local investor introduced a new type of brick known as ‘light brick’ made from cement, and sand, and it is currently wildly popular due to its bigger size compared to regular bricks, lighter in weight and easy to put up. It looks nice and its an innovation for our country.”