Kampuchea House is an Australian-funded orphanage located approximately 40km from the town of Siem Reap and the majestic temples of Angkor. Money raised through fundraising activities in Australia goes towards the on-going upkeep of the orphanage and the livelihood of its residents. Without this refuge, the children would face a bleak future. Confined to living with ageing grandparents or in large extended families in a daily struggle with poverty, having little or no chance at an education.
Consisting of three Kampuchean-style houses, a Community Centre, a library room, and a shower/toilet block, the orphanage provides shelter, security and education for 24 Cambodian orphans and deserted children. Providing a safe haven within a family environment, the orphanage has an important role in the community.
Further cementing significance in the life of the community, free English lessons have also commenced in the facility’s Community Centre for people within the local village.
With sufficient land on site, and funds available though Australian fundraising activities, Arup became involved with Kampuchea House, working with the community to build a fourth dwelling to provide shelter for the ever growing number of orphans.
With a wealth of knowledge and experience in designing low-cost housing using environmentally sustainable building techniques, Arup spearheaded the project while imparting its knowledge and building know-how to the local community.
True to traditional Kampuchean-style housing architecture, House #4 consisting of a wooden upper floor structure, whilst maximising the use of space with a brick infill lower level. Rather than using palm leaves for the roof, Arup built a solid construction incorporating guttering so that precious rain water could be collected for drinking purposes.
The construction also utilised natural ventilation and lighting and incorporated solar panelling.
With its involvement in Kampuchea House – House #4 project, Arup stands to meet many of its stated corporate objectives.
The project helps the organization fulfill its sustainability goals by working on community projects that achieve sustainability goals while developing opportunities to establish corporate strategic partnerships and informal relationships with appropriate charitable organizations. The work also builds opportunities for staff to participate in corporate volunteering activities.
Structural engineer, Mithra Rajaratinam and project manager Eli Firestone each spent three months working with the community on the project.
Mithra comments: “Arup has a wealth of knowledge and experience in low-cost and environmentally sustainable building techniques and these were features in the design of the orphanage. We gained valuable experience through considering cost, constructability, sustainability and the local cultural conditions."
While there were difficulties in sourcing all the necessary local information, coupled with language barriers and cultural differences to overcome, having a role in this project was so rewarding. Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces made the project incredibly worthwhile.
Without this refuge, the children would face a bleak future. Confined to living with ageing grandparents or in large extended families in a daily struggle with poverty, having little or no chance at an education.