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FIRST LOOK

SAWA and Squire & Partners design Cambodian technology centre

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The £20,000 collaborative project was built over four months, using local resources, labour and skills

Located in Krong Samraong, Cambodia, the Agriculture & Technology Centre was built by contractors, farmers and locals, assisted by volunteers from the UK. The development provides an education space to teach agricultural technologies, support children and adults, and facilitate opportunities for enterprise.

Designed by London-based collective SAWA with its longstanding humanitarian architecture collaborator Squire & Partners, the project is responsive to a tropical climate – with raised floors to reduce flood risk, screens diffusing sunlight and overhanging roof eaves suitable for rainy seasons.

08 agri tech cambodia s&p sawa

08 agri tech cambodia s&p sawa

The technology centre draws on crafts from the area’s vernacular – utilising local resources, labour and skillsets. The main structure provides a multi-use hall with office and ancillary storage spaces and a full-width screened veranda. Sitting within a steel frame, the primary building materials consist of earth bricks handmade on site, rice husks, clay blocks and bamboo screens. Cassava and sand plaster have been used to render the walls – a material created in collaboration with a local organic farm.

A cast entrance ramp leads to a flexible screened veranda with built-in countertops used for workshops and pop-up shops. Two classrooms sit either side of a central hallway. Woven grass screens can be lowered to divide up the spaces, while bamboo fishermen baskets are repurposed as lampshades.

The Agriculture & Technology Centre was opened at the end of 2018. It is part of the first phase of a larger masterplan, which has delivered a series of buildings that will serve up to 200 students by 2020. The second phase aims to expand facilities and create a solar provision to support the development.

09 agri tech cambodia s&p sawa

09 agri tech cambodia s&p sawa

Project data 

Start on site July 2018
Completion December 2018
Gross internal floor area 310m²
Construction cost £20,000
Construction cost per m2 £64
Architect Squire and Partners in collaboration with SAWA architecture
Client Green Shoots Foundation (UK funding charity)
Structural engineer Buro Happold (Happold Foundation)
Sustainability engineer Buro Happold (Happold Foundation)
Architectural delivery support Building Trust International
Contractor Tat Sovattana Architecture Ltd (structure and roof)
Natural building, permaculture and natural plastering consultant OrganiKH Farm
Water contractor Cambodian Health
Sanitation specialist Human Rights Alliance
Local partner Community Integrated Development Organisation Cambodia 

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