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Lumley & Koller completes bamboo café and training centre in Cambodia

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This bamboo café in resort-town Siem Reap was recently completed to train young Cambodians for jobs in the region’s tourist industry

Spoons Café is part of a hospitality school run by the charity EGBOK, who wanted a ‘real-life’ environment where students could learn the professional skills needed in the industry and at the same time create a venue that would help showcase the charity’s work.

The café serves traditional Cambodian food to tourists, underpinning EGBOK’s additional remit to help preserve local cuisine and the knowledge and skills needed to prepare it. 

Parallelling this intent, the sustainable bamboo structure that Margate-based Lumley & Koller Architects designed follows on from their work in the region for Habitat for Humanity and Building Trust International, which was looking at ways to help reinvigorate and reinterpret traditional Cambodian architecture using local materials.  

The brief that developed was for a café-restaurant that could also be used for public functions and provide an assembly space for teaching and showing films, together with an ancillary teaching kitchen. 

The site is adjacent to a house leased by EGBOK containing their offices as well as bedrooms and dormitory accommodation for the students, to which separate access and privacy were required. 

Egbok Axo Apr17

Egbok Axo Apr17

Source: Lumley & Koller

Isonometric

Lumley & Koller devised a T-shaped pavilion in response to this brief, which through its careful placing on the site, creates different levels of privacy with two courtyards: a public one out the front, and a private courtyard for students, adjacent to the house, that gives access to the teaching kitchen. 

Even in a country with seemingly abundant bamboo, the challenge was to find a contractor willing to work with the material. The café was realised and executed by Bambusa Global Ventures, whose remit is to promote bamboo products and construction together with sustainable forestry and land management. Bambusa had recently set up a lightweight bamboo processing facility in the Eastern Plains Landscape of Cambodia and, parallelling the work of EGBOK, run a programme to help train local people as forest rangers and to preserve the local forest habitat.

The Spoons café project is designed to take the opportunity offered by local tourism to help support local social and cultural sustainability which that tourism has been destroying, through teaching skills in regional vernacular construction and cuisine, and preserving threatened bamboo and forest landscapes.

Project data

Start on site February 2016
Completion  November 2016
Gross internal floor area 185m² 
Architect Lumley & Koller
Client EGBOK
Structural engineer Stuart Cochlin, Architect, Siem Reap
Main contractor ES-Pro Construction Co 
Bamboo contractor Bambusa Global Ventures
CAD software used Various
Annual CO2 emissions Zero

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