This refurbishment of a historical shop house in decay is located on the riverside of the sleepy colonial town of Kampot, Cambodia. It investigates the adaptation of a south east Asian typology to the more contemporary customs, such as of tourism and modern lifestyle. The main concept was to introduce the notion of preservation and importance of endangered colonial center with an innovative approach to showcase the transform of an old shophouse into a 320 sqms of modern residence with a restaurant on ground floor.
The amendments are very subtle and aim to blend seamlessly with the existing. The aim was to create a continuity between old and new and to offer a timeless experience for the inhabitant without copying the past.
The house gathers a gourmet restaurant at ground floor and a modern residence on top. Each room is both, naturally ventilated and lit by a large courtyard. This ‘in-house’ courtyard is an evolution of the typical service lightwell / air well which existed in the house due to its length. We approached it as a central feature which hosts an interior landscape that blurs the inside - outside boundaries. A light metal spiral staircase distributes each of the rooms of the house. It creates a surprising narrative for the house as one walks up the stairs. After climbing the stairs, one ends at the top of the house, which we call the nest. It is a hidden lightweight metal structure, only visible from the inside, offering a view to the mountainous landscape of Kampot.
This project conveys the idea that the present can be anchored in tradition. This reinterpretation of the Chinese shophouse typology respectfully integrates a new program within the remains of the existing. The effects of time on the historical facade of the building are maintained while a new contemporary construction is inserted inside the heritage envelope to modernize the house and offer new use.
Due to its remote location and the difficulty to access the inside without having to demolish the delicate, old façade, BLOOM had to design the whole project capable to be built on site by autochthone workforce. Atelier Kampot is a manifesto for slow, thoughtful architecture, that uses conscious construction methods in collaboration with a selected team of local skilled workers and locally available materials.
Recycled wood from the original house was reclaimed and used to make new custom furniture and windows. The natural patina blurs the boundaries between the old and the new to give the place a timeless feeling.
Project Name: Atelier Kampot
Location: KAMPOT, CAMBODIA
Architect Office: Bloom Architecture
Lead Architect：Antoine Meinnel, Lim Kong
Completion Year: 2018
Photographer：Bloom, Nataly lee, Antoine Raab
Bloom is a boutique Architecture studio established in 2015 by Antoine Meinnel which empowers local talents. Combining our understanding of Khmer identity with methodologies from leading international offices, our belief is that each building shall be exemplary and inspirational. Our vision is that design makes cities Bloom.
Working in Cambodia gives an opportunity to explore what could be a new daily Khmer Architecture. Bloom studio intends to develop meaningful typologies that are far away from mere compilation of generic architecture. Using forms directly inspired by the vernacular and the golden age of the sixties, we comprehend contemporary idea of functionality along with the recent transformations of the Khmer society.
Through our understanding of the Cambodian context, construction methods, the lush tropical vegetation and the possibilities of local materials, we turn the lack of resources into a potential for creativity. Building today is about being specific, generous and respectful towards the environment. Prioritization of local craftsmanship proves beneficial over the standardization of design that makes use of imported generic materials.
Architecture is an opportunity to create synergies with the tropical climate. It is important to work with the environment and not against it. For instance, it is possible to enjoy the fresh evening breeze of a place in its dry season but also stay protected against the humidity of monsoon and the heat of harsh summers by simple yet thoughtful integration of design and planning. We create comfortable environments through passive systems of weather control and buffer spaces to offer natural ventilation that complement new technologies. We design robust buildings that are made to last. We believe in quality over quantity. It is beneficial for a client to get a project which is carefully crafted so they do not have to worry about maintenance and operational issues.
BLOOM believes in a bright future for Cambodia. It is the time to design the city of tomorrow… It is the time to bloom.