The Neeson Cripps Academy is a school for secondary education in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, built for the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

Project Name: Neeson Cripps Academy
Studio Name: COOKFOX Architects
Design Team: Rick Cook, Pam Campbell, Ciarán Conlon, Julie Fisher, Antariksh Tandon, Tyler Caine, Marguerite Lefevre, Giacomo Vischi, Mark Canfield, Tarlton Long
Area: 33, 400 SF
Year: 2017
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Photography Credits: David Yeow


  • Client                                                    Cambodian Children’s Fund
  • Owner’s Rep                                         AHC Management
  • General Contractor                                Advance Construction and Design
  • MEP Consultant                                    Optima Consultants
  • Structural Consultant                             iLi Consulting Engineers

Mekong Ltd. (Design)

Arcadia Engineering Group (Construction)

  • Construction Manager                           ACH Management
  • Window Wall, Windows, Glazed Doors   Teasco
  • Floor                                                     Locally made terracotta tiles
  • Elevators                                              Schindler Elevator
  • Bathroom, Kitchens, Sanitary Wares      American Standard
  • Solar                                                    Arcadia Engineering
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©David Yeow

Located in a neighborhood of extreme poverty adjacent to the site of the former Steung Meanchey garbage dump, the school provides high-quality education to 400 of the city’s most disadvantaged children, aged 13-18, with a robust English-language program, STEAM curriculum, and globally-connected learning.

Neeson Cripps Academy By COOKFOX Architects- Sheet6
©David Yeow

The school building is conceived in two parts. A long, south wing is composed of open air classrooms and flexible enclosed learning spaces accessed by outdoor walkways. These rooms are dual aspect and benefit from passive cross ventilation. An intricate bamboo screen and deep overhangs shade the façade. The north wing contains science labs, an art studio, computer lab, film and media room, galleries, multipurpose spaces and administration offices which are conditioned by highly efficient mechanical systems.

Neeson Cripps Academy By COOKFOX Architects- Sheet11
©David Yeow

Filtered outdoor air in supplied to all classrooms though energy recovery ventilators, optimizing indoor air quality and boosting learning capacity. A combination of deep vertical and horizontal brise soleil provide exterior shading. The design prioritizes use of daylighting in classrooms and circulation spaces to reduce demand for energy and provide learning benefits to the students. On-site photovoltaics provide a portion of the school’s energy needs, and low-energy lighting and low flow fixtures reduce operating costs. The photovoltaics are integrated into the roof design as a rain and sun shade that protects a multipurpose sports court.

Neeson Cripps Academy By COOKFOX Architects- Sheet12
©David Yeow

A significant portion of the building is dedicated to flexible gathering spaces designed to encourage strong long-term social networks and collaborative learning among students. Much of the ground level is open to provide a covered gathering space with a visual connection to a large courtyard garden, and to lessen the school’s vulnerability to flooding.

COOKFOX Architects

COOKFOX Architects was founded in 2003 by Rick Cook and Bob Fox to pursue beautiful, innovative and sustainable design. Now led by Rick and eight partners, their core mission is to create environmentally responsible, holistic and biophilic architecture that fosters well-being and a healthy urban landscape. Their work ranges from small jewel-like projects to complex urban transformations, spanning multifamily residential and single-family homes to institutional and commercial projects.

Their predecessor firm, Richard Cook & Associates, was founded in 1996 and became known for refined contemporary architecture in New York City’s historic districts, such as Historic Front Street and The Caroline, as well as institutional work such as The Ross Institute Center for Well-Being.

Prior to co-founding COOKFOX, Bob Fox was a founding partner of Fox & Fowle Architects. Under his guidance, that firm rose to a position of national leadership in sustainable high-rise building and urban design. Bob led the team that created the 1999 Commercial and Residential Environmental Guidelines for Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan; later updated by COOKFOX, they have resulted in the creation of 5 million square feet of LEED Gold and Platinum buildings and are the first of their kind to be written for an entire urban neighborhood.

COOKFOX designs high-performance, environmentally responsive spaces that meet the highest standards of environmental performance. Their projects include the LEED Platinum One Bryant Park; Skanska Construction’s office in the Empire State Building; and their former studio in the Flatiron District, the first LEED Platinum project in New York State. Their current studio is certified both LEED Platinum and WELL Gold. Several new projects will meet standards “beyond LEED,” including a facility for the Riverside Clay Tennis Association in Riverside Park designed to fulfill the Living Building Challenge; and Betances V, a senior affordable housing and community facility in the Bronx designed for Passive House certification.

The firm seeks out projects that will create positive urban transformation and is often retained for their ability to lead large and diverse project teams, client groups and public stakeholders through complex public approvals by city and state agencies. When the 2.2 million square-foot One Bryant Park tower became the first skyscraper in the world to achieve LEED Platinum certification, it transformed the market, shifted thinking about modern building design and real estate development in New York and other American cities, and achieved at large scale many of the green building movement’s most transformative ideas.

Since then, the firm has completed City Point, a 1.6 million square foot complex of retail, office, entertainment and high-rise residential building in Downtown Brooklyn that has become a catalyst for a more vibrant and diverse urban community. On the West Side of Manhattan, they are currently reimagining the historical St. John’s Terminal into the next generation of high-performance, biophilic workplace.

To expand their presence in the green building movement, Rick and Bob joined Bill Browning in 2006 to create Terrapin Bright Green, a sister environmental consulting and strategic planning firm. Now an independent firm, Terrapin advises clients on green development, public and corporate policy, and environmental performance strategies. Among their collaborations is the publication of 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design.

Environmental stewardship forms the core of COOKFOX’s designs, from an urban scale to interior materials and detailing. They believe that healthy environments are physically, visually and psychologically connected to nature and accordingly follow principles of biophilia, health and wellness. The firm highlights the innate connection between humans and their surrounding living systems, using their own biological preferences to create spaces that are environmentally responsible and foster health and well-being.

The firm believes a truly healthy and sustainable built world includes everyone. They are deeply committed to social equality in their work and operations, and passionate advocates of architecture that promotes equality. In addition to designing affordable and supportive housing for low-income and senior residents in New York, COOKFOX has designed a hospital visitors pavilion in Siem Reap, Cambodia, as well as a STEM school for at-risk children in Phnom Penh. They encourage diversity and fairness in hiring and in all facets of their practice.

Rick Cook


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