A monstrous commercial centre that aims to become a major Phnom Penh landmark will lift its halt on construction by the end of 2018 following a decision by investors to reorganise the project and redesign the structure.
Po Billsambath, a representative of Yianchang Cambodia, said construction will be restarted at the end of next year because the company has to redo the entire building plan. Due to its height, the company said it was making an effort to thoroughly scrutinise the foundation of the building and its structure in order to avoid any risks.
“The building is estimated to cost $200 million to build, and might take 4 to 5 years to complete. We hope to have it up and running by 2023 or 2024,” he said. “This building is a mixed-use commercial centre that will include a supermarket, an apartment, condos, a hotel and offices for rent.”
The 78-storey building named “Glory” will be built next to The Bridge in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune.
“I believe that this project will be successful, because by the time this condo is completed, more people in Cambodia will have warmed up to the residential trend of living in a condo since a condo provides many services and comforts,” Billsambath added.
“In the future, the price of flats in Phnom Penh might increase up to $300,000 to $400,000, so it is cheaper and more comfortable to live in a condo.”
Nuon Rithy, CEO of the Khmer Foundation Appraisal, said that under the current political and economic climate of the country, high-rise construction projects are a good investment. The potential demand for condos and high-rise apartments, he said, will be even bigger in 5-10 years and Glory may not even be enough to satisfy market demand.
“If we only think about personal benefit, we can’t develop very quickly, because investors are like bees, they will aggregate to places with flowers,” he said. “Cambodia can be compared to a garden of flowers at the moment, and that’s why the more investors that come to our country, the more benefits our country and these investors can get.”
Urbanisation expert Van Vat said Cambodia has regulations in place that put a cap on the height of buildings, and he said the rules, when strictly enforced, will help maintain the appearance of the city while cutting down on the potential environmental damage.
“Normally, companies are already very particular with technical standards when constructing mega structures, and experts from the ministry are just there to oversee the standards of the construction in order to monitor whether company is abiding by the proposed policies or not,” he said. “Having high-rise buildings like these is a source of pride for our country, because they not only help our economy but also provide employment and income for locals.”
Other architectural experts are less keen on the idea of Phnom Penh becoming a city of skyscrapers, worrying that the desire for more high-rises will lead to unforeseen health risks for residents.
“You should focus on the scenery of the city, because high-rise buildings aren’t just decorations for the city. You should also consider the health implications and risks to the people living in the city,” said Ouk Vannarith, an architect and former professor of architecture living in France.
He visits Phnom Penh every two years, and is constantly astounded by the increasing number of high-rise buildings popping up across the city’s landscape.
“Wherever there’s a high-rise building, we usually notice that a lot of people live around those places, not to mention a lot of traffic, therefore it’s a given that there should be large spacious parks, wide roads of many lines. If not, there will be traffic congestion problems which will increase the carbon emissions that harm the health of commuters and locals,” he said.
“This will create irritation and displeasure that will lead to mental afflictions. Children are also affected by this, with some developing slow cognitive growth and other complications because they live in a toxic environment,” Vannarith added. “According to my observation, there are many high-rise buildings, yet the roads stay the same size or even shrink. This, I find, will be a huge problem in society. Therefore, the government should think over very carefully how many storeys a building should have in areas that are crowded with other high-rise structures.”