Affordable Housing Design Challenge 2018

Affordable Housing Design Challenge 2018

The aim of this Design Challenge 2018 was to design affordable homes for the workers in and nearby the PPSEZ of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The design had to show a sensitivity to the local culture and tropical surroundings and to provide a sustainable solution that builds upon the local vernacular. A total of at least 3000 house units was required and the costs per unit had to remain below $16.000 allowing for future ownership by factory workers. The desired standard unit house would include a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and an independent toilet.

In order to mitigate the effects of urban heat islands and the overall extremes of climate change our entry, PENH’S PADDIES, marries affordable housing with double and smart land use. The original rice paddies are raised providing both buffers and cooling shelters for the dwellings, whilst preserving at least part of the arable land. The entire complex is orientated to take advantage of the prevailing winds and is thus optimised for ventilation. Wider, north-south streets further facilitate windflow through the neighbourhood. The main square with its marketplace is located next to the cool forest at the end of the main axis and access road.


The buildings themselves use low-tech techniques as much as possible to cool and ventilate. Large, overhanging paddy terraces provide shade and cooling water for the apartments. At the same time these paddies act as pools, storing rainwater for the dry season, as well as reducing flooding by retaining as much rainwater as possible. Excess water is stored in large bassins below the dwellings before flowing back to the river. The basins act as grey water storage as well and use the inner gardens as filters for purification. All this water is pumped through the buildings with the aid of cooling ceilings. The energy for all this, and the apartments, is provided by solar panels on the nearby factories.

Using heigh ceilings provides additional comfort for the apartments. Both facades can opened to take advantage of the natural airflow. The facades can be accessed using formal and informal entries, allowing the workers to change as they leave or go to work. Inner courtyards function as communities and each block is a village of roughly a 150 people. These blocks are divided by access ramps and its shafts are coloured individually.
The entire structure uses simple and affordable parking garage techniques for its main structure, based upon a 7,2 m grid. The concrete structure is filled in with lightweight bamboo partitions and floors. The incorporated, concrete ramps are standard and provide access to the upper floors for light motorised vehicles, as used by both the inhabitants and the land workers on the paddies. The rice produced by the paddies is used for the school lunches. The flexible frame allows future alteration, or even merging of apartments, as the communities develop. As a whole the aim of PENH’S PADDIES is to offer sustainable growth possibilities for both the area and its people.

The houses should be designed for families, young couples with optional design elements for multiple or larger groups. As a total of 3,000 units are to be designed within the housing community, please include an overall masterplan of how the units will be arranged. This community planning, should include supporting facilities that meet the basic needs of residents, such as children’s daycare, shops, and public/ green space.