Source: Download the Competition Brief
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia is located at the confluence of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers and is a city of 1.5 million people, many of whom live along the riverbanks. Millions of people beyond Phnom Penh are sustained by these rivers and their accompanying deltaic landscape. The result is a cityscape and topography defined by and an intense interdependence between the inhabitants of the region and its rivers. This geography coupled with rapid development produces unique challenges and design opportunities for designers in Phnom Penh. The Urban Lab Phnom Penh aims to create a platform where to discuss these issues. To learn more and to get involved:
Urban Lab Phnom Penh
The Urban Lab Phnom Penh provides a space for the exchange of ideas between university students, architects, designers, artists and urban thinkers about the present and future of Phnom Penh. The Urban Lab is a group of people, a website and during the Our City Festival it will be a place (location will be made public soon). During the Our City Festival the Urban Lab will bring together known urban resources for Phnom Penh: photos, maps, drawings, models, videos, interactive media, and student projects. The Urban Lab will open prior to the Our City Festival. This will allow for ongoing experimentation and free student workshops leading up to and during the Festival.
Our City Festival
Our City Festival (September 29 – October 7) is a platform for dynamic art and architecture events, that explore urbanism in Phnom Penh and fosters opportunities for dialogue and public engagement. The Our City Festival 2012 theme is Urban Currents and takes as its point of departure the movements within the urban environment: the flows between the people, resources, environment, and landscape of the city within the context of its urbanization and its impact on greater Cambodia.
ភ្នំពេញជារាជធានីនៃប្រទេសកម្ពុជាមានទីតាំងនៅតំបន់ប្រសព្វនៃទន្លេសាប ទន្លេមេគង្គ និង ទន្លេបាសាក់ ដែលបច្ចុប្បន្នមានប្រជាជនចំនួនប្រហែល ១.៥ លាននាក់ដែលភាគច្រើនជាប្រជាជនរស់នៅតាមដងទន្លេ។ ប្រជាជនរាប់លាននាក់នៅជុំវិញក្រុងភ្នំពេញរស់នៅតំបន់ទំនាបដោយប្រើប្រាស់ទន្លេទាំងនោះ។ គំរោងរបស់ទីក្រុង នឹងសណ្ឋានដីបង្កើតឡើងក្នុងន័យបញ្ចូលប្រជាជនដែលរស់នៅក្នុងតំបន់នឹងទន្លេ។ ភូមិសាស្រ្តនេះជាមួយនឹងការអភិវឌ្ឍន៍បង្កើតជាការប្រកួតប្រជែង និងឱកាសក្នុងការរចនាក្រុង។ The Urban Lab Phnom Penh មានគោលបំណងក្នុងការបង្កើតជាទីកន្លែងសំរាប់ការសិក្សាបញ្ហាទាំងនេះ។ ដើម្បីស្វែងយល់បន្ថែម ៖
The Phnom Penh Urban Lab ផ្តល់ជាកន្លែងសម្រាប់ការផា្លស់ប្តូរគំនិតទស្សនៈរវាងនិស្សិត ស្ថាបត្យករ វិចិត្រករ និង អ្នកគិតគួរអំពីទីក្រុង អំពីអតីតកាលនិងអនាតរបស់ទីក្រុងភ្នំពេញ។ The Urban Lab គឺជាក្រុមមនុស្សមួយក្រុមនិង វិបសាយមួយ ហើយក្នុងឱកាសការប្រារព្ធពិធីបុណ្យទីក្រុងរបស់យើង Urban Labនឹងមានទីកន្លែងជាក់លាកមួយ(ទីកន្លែងនេះនឹងក្លាយជាកន្លែងសាធារណៈនាពេលឆាប់ៗនេះ)។ ក្នុងអំឡុងពេលនៃឱកាសពិធីបុណ្យទីក្រុងរបស់យើង នឹងប្រមួលធនធានទីក្រុងល្បីៗប្រចាំទីក្រុង សម្រាប់ទីក្រុងភ្នំពេញដែលមានដូចជា៖ រូបថត ផែនទី គំនូរ ម៉ូដេល វីដេអូ ប្រព័ន្ធសារព័ត៌មានដែលមានលក្ខណៈទាក់ទាញ និងគម្រោងរបស់និស្សិត The Urban Lab នឹងបើកមុនការប្រារព្ធពិធីបុណ្យទីក្រុងរបស់យើង។ ការបើកនេះផ្តល់ឲ្យនូវសម្រាប់ការដកស្រង់បទពិសោធន៍និង កិច្ចរោងជាងបែបសេវី ដែលនៃធ្វើរហូតដល់ និងអំឡុងពេលវេលានៃការប្រារព្ធពិធីបុណ្យទីក្រុង។
ពិធីបុណ្យទីក្រុងយើង ( ២៩កញ្ញា ដល់ ០៧ តុលា ) ជាការបង្ហាញការងារសិល្បៈនិង ព្រឹត្តិការណ៍ស្ថាបត្យកម្មដែលពន្យល់បង្ហាញអំពីការរៀបចំរបស់ទីក្រុងភ្នំពេញ និងជួយជុំរុញឱកាស និងសំរាប់ការផ្លាស់ប្តូរយោបល់ និងការចាប់អារម្មណ៍របស់សង្គម។ ពិធីបុណ្យទីក្រុងយើង សំរាប់ឆ្នាំ២០១២នេះគឺជាចរន្តរបស់ទីក្រុង និងគឺជាចំនុចចាប់ផ្តើមជាមួយបរិស្ថានទីក្រុងដែលនៅជាមួយមនុស្ស ប្រភពធនធាន បរិស្ថាន និង ទេសភាពរបស់ទីក្រុង និងផលប៉ះពាល់មកលើប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។
Be part of the Season of Cambodia in Spring 2013! The multi-disciplinary arts festival in New York City will feature the highest quality Cambodian music, dance, theater, visual arts, and film. Cambodian Living Arts, a Phnom Penh-based NGO, will produce this festival – the first of its scale anywhere in the world – in partnership with many of New York and Cambodia’s leading cultural institutions.
Discover Cambodia’s millennium-old cultural traditions, expressed in ancient religious ceremonies and rituals as well as in contemporary creative work, as new generations of artists draw upon the country’s rich history while exploring new ideas and artistic innovation. Thirty years after the genocide by the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia is emerging as a nation whose distinctive arts and culture are becoming its national and international signature.
Presenters such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Asia Society will showcase work ranging from classical dance and large-scale shadow puppetry (which bring ancient epics to life), to contemporary dance, circus arts/theater, music, and film, as well as host a conference featuring artists and scholars to provide context for the festival. Offstage activities will include peer-to-peer artist exchanges and outreach programs with community, teen, and cultural organizations.
Beyond 2013, Season of Cambodia will create a template for other cities around the world while serving as a catalyst for social and economic regeneration and growth in Cambodia. The festival will celebrate this transformative moment in Cambodia’s history, when a nation redefines itself through its arts and culture.
Season of Cambodia is produced by Cambodian Living Arts and is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts.
“When the present becomes unbearable there are two means of escaping it: the past and the future. Plato chose the second, assigning happiness a place in his Utopia… but humanity equally indulged in… nostalgia. Established as an absolute, the past also becomes a refuge. Only when men sense the waning of a civilisation do they suddenly become interested in its history and, probing, become aware of the force and uniqueness of the ideas it has fostered. Hegel said that the owl of Wisdom appears only at twilight.” – Germain Bazin
“…landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh has taken a novel approach to flood protection, reconfiguring the proposal so flood protection is phased in one area at a time. This also reduces the initial costs..The new $1.9 billion plan moves up the timeline for development..And it means parts of the 400-hectare Port Lands can be sold off for development, with the money used to build flood protection in another area.”
Port Lands development proposal looks ‘pretty darn good’
Published on Wednesday August 08, 2012
Waterfront Toronto and the city unveiled the latest vision for the Port Lands on Wednesday, almost a year after it was nearly critically derailed by councillor Doug Ford’s plan to build a Ferris wheel, monorail and megamall.
“This is a silver purse we made out of the sow’s ear,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher, referring to Ford’s plan.
The new $1.9 billion plan moves up the timeline for development, which is what the city asked for last September when councillors voted against Mayor Rob Ford’s bid to take over Waterfront Toronto, the city-provincial-federal agency tasked with developing the lakeshore area. The city also joined on as a partner.
The original plan for the Port Lands was contingent on making the area floodproof in case of a massive storm that would overwhelm the Don River. Accomplishing that meant moving the mouth of the river from the Keating Channel to the Toronto Harbour, an immense undertaking with a price tag of more than $600 million — a sum Waterfront Toronto didn’t have.
Instead, this time around, landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh has taken a novel approach to flood protection, reconfiguring the proposal so flood protection is phased in one area at a time. This also reduces the initial costs.
And it means parts of the 400-hectare Port Lands can be sold off for development, with the money used to build flood protection in another area.
“One thing that was very clear is that people wanted something started in the Port Lands, for something to come out of this exercise,” says Fletcher. “And to not have something to start with would be very sad.”
But she notes, “It doesn’t have to be all done at once,” and the proposal will be phased in over 30 years.
Currently, there’s no funding for the project. But David Kusturin, chief operating officer, says Waterfront Toronto’s business plan shows development revenues will cover a significant portion of the costs.
Other money may come through loans from the city or province. There’s also a new revenue idea: instituting area-specific development charges to offset infrastructure costs.
The agency said it consulted with developers, who have indicated they are willing to help pay for services such as water and sewer. “It makes sense for us to proceed,” Kusturin says.
The plan calls for a bus rapid transit line that will eventually be replaced with light rail. The city is currently looking at many ways to increase overall transit funding, including road tolls and gas or sales taxes. An extended transit package expected this fall will include the BRT proposal as well as the East Bayfront streetcar line along Queens Quay, explains deputy city manager John Livey.
An environmental assessment of the new proposal could be approved within the next 12 to 18 months, says Fletcher, who will push city council for the $65 million needed to create flood protection in phase one.
In that phase, the northwest corner of the Port Lands, south of Lake Shore Blvd. and west of Cherry St., will be developed at a total cost of $447 million, including $267 million in infrastructure costs. The site will be raised slightly higher.
Flood protection involves building a spillway along the Don Roadway, east of the area, to absorb excess flow in the event of flooding.
The mouth of the Don won’t be relocated until phase three of the bigger project.
The Port Lands area is almost as big as the region from Dundas St. to the lake and from Bathurst St. to Parliament St. The soil must be cleaned because it’s contaminated from years of industrial use, and because the area is largely infill, the bedrock lies 10 to 20 metres below the surface, which increases construction costs.
Planning for this project “has been arduous and very tough,” says Fletcher. “The public scrutiny is very high, as it should be. At the end we’ve got something pretty darn good.”
The new proposal will go to the executive committee in September and city council a month later.
My year in Cambodia continues to be a study in the beauty, complexity and contradictions of Phnom Penh and the inherent difficulties and ongoing surprises of researching, documenting and describing a rapidly developing city.
Recently, I have had some discouraging conversations with well intended but poorly informed researchers visiting Cambodia. I believe in the agency of academic work and think that when thoughtfully constructed it provides a powerful platform and counterpoint to the NGO community and the private sector.
I love the opportunity to talk about Phnom Penh, to share with others what I have learned, to describe my experience here, and to discuss the creative potential and challenges of the city.
However, before you come here and before we meet for coffee to talk about architecture and urbanization (or anything else) in Phnom Penh, here are the things I wish that you already knew:
1/ This is a dictatorship. Hun Sen has been in power for more than 10,000 days. Never forget this and the reality that entails.
2/ The Khmer Rouge killed almost an entire generation of people, including a large number of educated professionals. Don’t ask why Cambodia is ‘behind’ Thailand and Vietnam (seriously). At least read the Wikipedia article before you come here. Better yet read Elizabeth Becker’s book.
3/ The 20th century in Cambodia was marked by ongoing war and conflict – including a long American bombing campaign. Here is a timeline of population vs conflicts vs governments in Phnom Penh since 1866 (the beginning of the French Protectorate). The traces of that history inform the present day city.
4/ There is no agreed upon Master Plan for Phnom Penh. The French proposed one for 2020 (Le Livre Blanc). It is still under consideration. Here is an article about the ramifications of a rapidly developing unplanned city. For example, there is no formal sewage treatment which works as long as the lakes remain.
5/ Phnom Penh is located in the Mekong Flood Plain at the confluence of three rivers (Bassac, Tonle Sap and Mekong). There are both rain and river flood events here. Rain flood events occur most days during the wet season. There are open sewage canals in the city which sometimes overflow from stormwater.
6/ Urban issues are important but Cambodia is still mostly rural. Even though the pace of development in Phnom Penh is astonishing – that wealth and progress is not being spread equally to the rest of the country. Average income in Phnom Penh is three times higher than in the countryside. Much of the country still survives on less than $1 a day. Most rural Cambodians do not have access to a toilet.
7/ Land rights are an extremely controversial topic here, land titling is an ongoing issue and there is a great deal of money and power at stake. Peaceful protest is not a protected right. Boeug Kak Lake was infilled, 4,000 residents evicted, their homes destroyed, 15 arrested for protesting their eviction, jailed for 2 1/2 years without adequate trial, and only released under enormous outside pressure.
8/ Environmental activism cost Chut Wutty his life. He was working to prevent illegal logging. He was murdered because of the economic value of tropical hard wood. Understand an issue before acting, what is at stake, and why.
11/ There are amazing and talented Cambodian architects and artists already working here. The Future of Phnom Penh lies in their tenacity in addressing the challenges facing the city. We are just visitors. You and your ideas are guests.
Final student work from the seminar I taught this term – check it out! Future of Phnom Penh
The Future of Phnom Penh is a collection of conceptual and analytical drawings and writings about contemporary urban conditions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The work that follows was produced by architecture and urban planning students during a semester long seminar taught in Phnom Penh during Spring 2012 and entitled A Contemporary History of Urban Planning + The Future of Phnom Penh.
01 What is Urban Planning? (Writing)
02 Phnom Penh Master Plan Comparison (Writing)
03 Phnom Penh What Can’t Be Mapped? (Images + Description)
04 Phnom Penh What is Disappearing? (Images + Description
05 Phnom Penh Master Plan 2050 – Table of Contents (Writing)
06 Phnom Penh Public Service Announcement (Images + Description)
07 Phnom Penh: Archigram Style Collage (Images + Description)
08 Phnom Penh: What is Sustainability? (Writing or Image)
09 Phnom Penh Park Proposals (Images + Writing)
10 Phnom Penh + Jane Jacobs: Seeds of Resilience (Writing)
11 Phnom Penh as Video Game (Images + Writing)