Situated on the second floor of a 1930’s colonial house, once used as a photography exhibition hall, is SA.LA Design Landscaping and Architectural Group’s office. The five year old firm is an established member of the Kingdom’s architecture scene, being the first of its kind, and has gradually earned a strong reputation for design, both locally and internationally.
Sa.La’s founder Sarunya Lormaneenoapparat, who hails from Thailand, studied landscape architecture at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University, before moving on to the Asian Institute of Technology.
She moved to Phnom Penh in 2005 to teach at Norton University, and, in 2006, formed the landscaping company. Sarunya told PostProperty that Sa.La started out as an experimental project to provide students with first-hand experience of how landscaping could be achieved in Cambodia.
“The first thing I tell customers is that this isn’t a job for me – it’s a case study for the next generation [of landscapers], Sarunya said, as she flicked through a hefty stack of designs. “We have a normal income, but it’s not really a big deal.”
Her philosophy is reminiscent of Austrian naturalist architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, touching on ecological ideas such as reducing the usage of air conditioners through the building and the incorporation of roof gardens and plants to shade buildings.
Sa.La focuses immensely on the process rather than the product. According to Sarunya, she and her colleagues would spend hours at the worksite before starting on any drawings or ideas for the project.
“Sometimes sites will give you ideas. We try to make good of the site, environment and the ecology.” Sarunya said. “The physical aspects are things we need to conserve”
It is such attention to detail, that most of us do not even consider, that has earned Sa.La a reputation both locally and internationally. With projects such as the European Commission, Naga Hotel courtyard, the Welcome Centre in Siem Reap, as well as the private residences for many Excellencies under its long list of satisfied clients, Sarunya is certainly doing something right.
“Everything was set up well and professionally, and all the guests give good feedback on it,” Mr Kansathyan, manager of the Siem Reap-based Frangipani Hotel, and a satisfied customer said.
Beyond her innovative designs and full octane work ethic, Sarunya also has plenty of time for Cambodia’s budding landscapers and architects.
“It is my dream to make a foundation, I want to send students to study abroad, I want to create internships.”