The main challenge of the project was to design a low-cost structure so that each household could afford and then complete the house afterwards by community cooperative fund. People in the community of Prolay Tek have very low income in general and to make the houses affordable was the priority. In the end, people agreed on an incremental solution: a basic structure has been provided, financed with the collective loan, and then each family has completed it according to its availability of funds.
The design process was carried out with the support of students and lecturers from Phnom Penh’s Cambodia Mekong University, part of the Community Architects Network of Cambodia (CAN-Cam whose work focuses on participatory design of low-cost housing with poor communities). The design reflects local housing typologies; the settlement of linear shape has adapted from the previous settlement.
With a feasible proposal, an internal organization, a link to other communities in the city through the Community Development Fund (CDF), and a loan in its hands - the community of Prolay Tek was finally able to negotiate with the local authorities and use such assets to leverage more funds. Indeed, local authorities granted the community the land for an on-site re-blocking to make the housing flood-proof, and also provided the infrastructures (water and electricity).
Prolay Tek is a lower-income community located on public land along a canal in Peamro district (Prey Veng province). People started settling here after the fall of Pol Pot regime, in 1979. They didn’t risk eviction, as the canal is not very much used, but were subject to consistent flooding hazard for six months every year, during the rainy season. Beside this, housing conditions were extremely poor; the houses were on stilts, made of bamboo, wood and thatch.
The project is made of a long slab of two-storey houses on stilts, reinterpreting the traditional Khmer house, each floor plot of 4x4.8m. In this way, each household can share the foundations with the neighbours, reducing the costs considerably. The shape of the building, as a linear structure, furthermore retains the spatial setting of the previous settlement.