International Design + Build workshop creates sustainable natural building for conservation group in Cambodia: A hands-on participatory workshop organised by Building Trust International educates both Cambodians, local NGO workers and international volunteers on sustainable building techniques, working with natural materials and promoting the importance of quality in good design.Following the construction of several built projects in Cambodia using natural materials and seeing the growing interest and response in sustainable design, Building Trust organised a Design + Build workshop to be held at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre on the outskirts of Phnom Penh with Free the Bears. Working alongside Atelier COLE, a new kiosk design was created which would educate both workshop participants and the 250,000+ Khmer visitors to the park on natural building materials and construction techniques.
Free the Bears work tirelessly to combat the illegal trade in live bears and provide a safe sanctuary for any rescued bears at Phnom Tamao. They also aim to educate Khmer visitors on the benefits of renewable energy strategies such as solar power, harvesting rainwater and bio-gas as alternatives to mainstream energy sources. It was important to construct an on site ‘show’ kiosk which not only educates visitors on why conservation is so important but also on how to build with natural materials. Promoting both new and traditional construction techniques to locals with the aim of them using the skills on their own home design in the future. In order to build the kiosk a group of 10 international participants took part in a 2 week long workshop learning about sustainable design, alongside members of the local community and NGO workers.The design makes use of natural materials such as bamboo for the roof construction and adobe bricks to create the walls. The kiosk quite literally came from the ground it now sits upon, locally sourced bamboo, clay, sand and scrap metal were collected from the site and repurposed into the new building. Matt Hunt, FTB Chief Executive,“Phnom Tamao retains a vast untapped potential to serve as the premier environmental education centre for the nation. Small projects such as this serve as fantastic examples of realistic ways in which Cambodian people can work with sustainably-sourced materials in order to develop their country”. David Cole, Atelier COLE, Partner, “We wanted to create a design which could be built for a fraction of the cost of typical brick/concrete buildings.Using natural building techniques, taught to locals and international volunteers throughout the process, we created a building which acts as a pebble in a pond encouraging more thought about building materials and creating low cost, less damaging alternatives. The rescue centre plan to build more of the kiosks and this project is part of a larger masterplan that we are working on for Building Trust International”. Nev Broadis, FTB, Regional Director,“At Free the Bears, we understand that sustainability and conservation are intrinsically linked. By teaming up with BTI for this project we created a functioning building that doesn’t cost the earth.” Building Trust have developed a set of sustainable toolkits which will be free to download from their website. These toolkits are an educational resource to be referred to when developing natural buildings. Ranging from how to build with adobe, to construction with bamboo, it is hoped that these easy to understand toolkits with photos documenting the process will enable anyone to copy the results. Building Trust are working alongside conservation groups in South East Asia, Africa and South America to not only deliver alternative/ more sustainable buildings but also to use the building process as a tool to introduce new techniques and revitalise traditional skills. Press release courtesy of Building Trust International