Architecture Students Draw Inspiration From Le Corbusier

In the 1920s, visionary architect Le Corbusier came up with a new concept: a multistory residential building designed in a way that would make occupants feel like they were living in individual homes.

And while Le Corbusier’s own plans for such an apartment block, which he called Immeubles Villas, were never executed, many other architects have drawn inspiration from his idea. 

A model made by students from the Phnom Penh Institute of Technology (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
A model made by students from the Phnom Penh Institute of Technology (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

Now, nearly 100 years later, Cambodian architecture students are taking up the challenge. The Institut Francais’ annual architecture contest, whose winning team will be announced on Tuesday, required students to create models of buildings of 30 to 40 units that felt like individual homes.

The concept, said French architect Yvon Chalm of the firm Acyc Architects, “is that the person who gets back to his apartment must have the feeling not of going to an apartment but of going to his home that happens to be on a second or third floor.”

Mr. Chalm, along with architects San Chanritthy of Hok Kang Architects and Ivan Tizianel of Asma Architects, held workshops for students from eight participating universities to help them develop their ideas.

Students had to plan their buildings for land on Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva peninsula in accordance with the city’s construction code. The units had to be affordable, without luxury features such as pools or gyms.

There also were less obvious requirements that the three-student teams had to consider.

When architects design apartments, Mr. Chanritthy said, “They have to look at the living culture.”

“For example, in a Cambodian wooden house, the kitchen is at the back on the lower floor…. We don’t consider the kitchen as something to show to your guests. It’s something more private, more personal.” So an apartment designed for Cambodians would not have a kitchen as a main feature, he said.

With this in mind, the team from the Royal University of Fine Arts made the living room the largest space in their design, adding a large window to bring in nature and light. “The living room is the place where all family members spend most of their time,” said student Seang Satya.

Knowing how much Cambodians like to have garden space, students from Limkokwing University put in individual gardens, said team member Eung Kim­reak­smey. They put them near walkways so that a person strolling by would be able to see a neighbor in his or her garden and exchange a few words.

Another consideration was the warm climate. The team from the Phnom Penh Institute of Technology took advantage of this by putting in ample windows with sliding shutters to bring in natural light and ensure cross-ventilation to eliminate the need for air conditioning, said student Koeng Seng Hour.

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