Community in Cambodia

| March 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

In our last edition, we promised a closer look at some schools identified as the most innovative in the world by online magazine flavorwire.com. Finnish architects Rudanko and Kankkunen say that their design of the Sra Pou Vocational School, located in the village of Sra Pou, Cambodia, is the result of “an intuitive and participative social design approach”.

The school is not just for children, but exists to provide professional training to residents in the underprivileged surrounding area so that they can start sustainable businesses. It is also a place for public gatherings and democratic decisionmaking for the whole community.

A local non-profit organisation organises the teaching. To combat scarce resource problems, community members learned how to use the red soil that characterises this area to make sundried soil blocks that function as bricks. The whole school is handmade, say the architects, and no machines or prefabricated parts were used in the building work, to demonstrate to villagers how to develop further infrastructure out of available materials in the village.

The school’s walls are laid out with small holes, so that indirect sunlight and gentle wind come in to cool the spaces. “The whole community space is open, providing comfortable shaded outdoor space. The colourful handicraft doors are visible from far away and welcome visitors coming along the main road,” says Rudanko. Adds Kankkunen: “The school differs from the ordinary Cambodian rural schools, which are usually just constructed out of wooden planks and are barely sound.

Sra Pou, by contrast, is a solid structure with a proper roof that pays architectural respect to the entire community. Because it is an open-ended structure, everyone can feel welcome.”

Category: Autumn 2013

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