This 43 classrooms school was commissioned to Bloom in 2019 by the French Nongovernmental Organization “pour un sourire d’enfant” (PSE) in order to structure and modernize a campus of 7000 students. PSE is a NGO started shortly after Cambodia reopened its border in 1995 in the aim of providing Cambodian kids living in the dump of Steung Meanchey a chance at education.
Project Name: South Field School
Studio Name: Bloom Architecture
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
Year: Completed 2020
Area: 43 classrooms, 3600 sqm
Team: Antoine Meinnel, Robin Leonard, Khoan Pengly, Mao Menchhorng, Sov Kikheang, Kong Lim
Since recent times the campus faces issues linked to a rapid development of its surroundings. The escalating real estate prices is causing the necessity for more efficient land use while the lack of storm water management in the surrounding is provoking recurrent floodings. Bloom was commissioned to develop a scalable strategy to densify the campus to an acceptable maximum.
The first intention is to densify the built structure while maintaining a maximum height of three floors in order to stay below the trees canopy. The reduction footprint linked to higher buildings is the opportunity for an interconnected network of courtyards hosting green recreational areas and serving as infrastructure for stormwater retention. The series of green courtyard will provide a serene environment for the children to learn, it is instrumental to creating a sense of community. The external areas are prolonged in series of open circulation, to foster interaction. The students can walk freely from one side of the campus to the other.
The plot of land for the South Field School was the first acquisition of PSE when the site was just a dump. The old Khmer houses present on the site, although they are not structurally sound anymore, have an historical value as they represent hope and change. Reclaimed wood from the original buildings was retained. This wood will be charred in an attempt to resist the sun and the termites. The materials used within the school are available locally, they were selected to be long lasting and cost efficient. Moreover an emphasis was put on materials with natural textures and organic colors for example we promoted the use of local terracotta floor and roof tiles. The natural soil color of the façade render, complementing the compacted red laterite ground.
The building is designed to encourage curiosity while providing dignity and pride to the students. The intentional economy of means in Bloom’s approach of education spaces is meant to convey value of respect and sustainability for future generations.