Design has traditionally evolved as a response to tectonic shifts in cultures, to emerging practices, and is shaped by social and environmental needs.
Though we’ve seen how quickly we adapt in times of crisis, in many ways we are still behind when it comes to finding solutions that address long-term social and environmental issues, two of which are the lack of affordable housing and climate change.
In 2030, Cambodia’s national population is predicted to swell to 19 million. In Phnom Penh, this growth is driven by continuous rural-to-urban migration making the need for better and more affordable housing much more urgent. Despite the clear demand for low-cost housing, developers in Cambodia have focused on building opulent and expensive homes that are wasteful, in terms of resources and energy. As of 2020, only 5 affordable housing projects were approved, which account for less than 10,000 residential units, a far cry from the 50,000 units stated in Cambodia’s national policy.
We’ve been sold the idea that it’s more expensive to build sustainable homes, and that solutions are still far into the future. But what if there’s a way to make high-performing energy-efficient homes that are also affordable simply through good design?
In an effort to lower carbon footprints, the eco-conscious home design aims to reduce energy waste through the use of natural lighting, and ventilation, and by controlling the micro-climate through strategic placement of greenery.
Though technologies such as solar-panel roofs and windows will remain out of reach for many, a few potential solutions lie in the careful selection of existing construction materials, and the use of common design elements that do not require the use of expensive materials or advanced technology. The idea that it’s possible to create low-cost houses that take into account limited resources and local contexts may be radical, but not out of reach.
Part of the Our Home 2030 Competition by Y Chhe Group is to provide aspiring designers and architects the opportunity to reflect on what we have learned from our collective experiences and to find ways to apply these learnings on designing Cambodian residences that enhance our living as a response to relevant social and environmental challenges.
How do we build better spaces where people thrive given the challenges that we foresee in the next decade?
Click here to learn more about Our Home 2030.