Asma, the architects behind Kantha Bopha’s conference centre, AHA restaurant and Bodia Spa, have opened a hotel, café and design showroom in the old ACE premises just off Wat Bo.
Set in a 1960s building, Pages incorporates Pages Rooms, Pages Café, Pages Design and Open Pages, an office rental space.
Pages is owned by Asma architects Lisa Ros and Ivan Tizianel, both educated at the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture, and engineer Bun Yalin.
The concept is for a place where “form and function meld, and where travelers, architects, engineers, teachers, students, neighbours, designers, artists and visitors may cohabit.”
The café at the front of the building is light and airy, with an urban chic feel to it – all exposed concrete walls coupled with stylish Asma-designed lamps, 60s-esque low armchairs, bright splashes of colour and a large aqua-coloured silkscreen print on the walls.
“We exposed the original columns and the walls, it’s a bit rough, it’s a nice contrast,” says Tizianel. “The walls have a nice texture. We wanted to keep as much of the original as possible.”
Pages Café has air-conditioning, but Tizianel says thanks to the building’s design they rarely need to use it – and indeed with the large windows, high ceilings and overhead fans the room feels perfectly cool.
“The concept is a bit 60s. We love that time when there was no air-conditioning, and people were smart enough to make a space for living with light, ventilation, and not too enclosed,” he says.
“Conditions in Southeast Asia are perfect for modern architecture – there is no clear limit between inside and outside. In Europe you have to make a really clear division with glass, protection from the elements, big walls – you have to completely enclose the rooms. Here, it’s not necessary.”
The foreground of the café also serves as the showroom for some of Asma’s products – mainly lamps and furniture – and items by French-Khmer designer Sirivan, including round mirrors with Art Deco-style sunburst-shaped bamboo frames, and cute yellow and rattan wastepaper bins. Architecture and design magazines are strewn across tables for customers to peruse.
“We’ve been working for such a long time here, and over the years we’ve designed furniture for different projects, so we decided to put it all in the same place,” says Tizianel.
The menu focuses on continental breakfast and brunch-type fare, such as croissants, chocolatines, and baguettes filled with mortadella, pate or Parma ham. There are also fresh juices, teas and coffees. In the future, Tizianel and Ros plan to serve good quality Cambodian food.
“Many people come in for breakfast,” says Tizianel. “The thing is when you live in Siem Reap and you don’t want to be in a crowded area like Pub Street, being here, just two minutes away, is quite nice.”
Behind the café is the hotel, comprising nine rooms and two small apartments. Decked out by Asma and Sirivan, all the rooms follow clean lines, with neutral grey and beige tones, and lots of natural light.
Rooms look out onto verdant views of banana trees, or the diminutive elegant swimming pool, and are a reasonable $40-$50, while the apartments are $70.
“They are all similar design,” says Tizianel. “We used a lot of material that we already had like the floor tiles, and the wood paneling behind the beds. We’ve done a lot of projects and we wanted to recycle as much as possible.”
Pages Café is open every day from 7am to 7pm.