Kouk Khleang Youth Center is located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Construction of the center was finished in January 2014. Photo by Susanna Alatalo.
Kouk Khleang Youth Center is located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Construction of the center was finished in January 2014. Photo by Susanna Alatalo.

Finnish architectural expertise recognized in Iran

The Finnish Komitu Architects have received an international Energy Globe Award for their youth center project in Cambodia. The award was presented in Tehran on 19 January 2016.

The Kouk Khleang Youth Center designed and implemented by Komitu Architects was completed in January 2014. It is located on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Local organizations and residents were actively involved in the design process. Furthermore, local students were offered lectures and workshops on environmentally sustainable building practices at the construction site. The building is currently used by two Cambodian non-governmental organizations for teaching English as well as computer and vocational skills to children and young people.

The aim of the award-winning project was to use building practices and materials that are ecological while respecting the local culture. The center was built using, for example, bamboo, compressed earth blocks and recycled plastic bottles. Making of earth blocks requires hardly any energy and bamboo is a rapidly renewable local material that absorbs carbon. The building was lifted up from the ground to protect it from floods and the large eaves and drip molds on the walls protect the building from heavy rains.

KKYC_Bottle wall_Susanna Alatalo

One test wall of garbage-filled plastic bottles was built for the house as a response to the waste problems in the area. Photo by Susanna Alatalo.

Bamboo is a rapidly renewable local material that absorbs carbon. Photo by Montana Rakz.

Bamboo is a rapidly renewable local material that absorbs carbon. Photo by Montana Rakz.

The Energy Globe Foundation is a non-profit organization, which seeks to raise awareness of sustainable practices and renewable energy sources. It also aims to promote global dialog among experts and political decision-makers.

The jury justified its decision by saying:
“Our youth is growing into a new future that requires a new thinking in regard to a responsible use of our natural resources. This year´s National Winner of the Energy Globe Award in Cambodia provides the underprivileged Cambodian youth with possibilities for education, work and societal activities and the privileged youth with possibilities for voluntarism. Environmentally sustainable building practices are promoted as well as the use of ecological materials suitable for the Cambodian culture and climate, especially bamboo.”

The Energy Globe Award was accepted in Tehran by two team members, Noora Aaltonen and Elina Tenho

The Energy Globe Award was accepted in Tehran by two team members, Noora Aaltonen and Elina Tenho

The Komitu Architects team consists of Noora Aaltonen, Sisko Hovila, Tuuli Kassi, Maiju Suomi, Elina Tenho and Inari Virkkala. Komitu was responsible for the project’s architectural design, construction management and funding. The biggest financial supporters were the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Finnish Cultural Foundation and Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

The project has also received other international awards in addition to the Energy Globe Award. It received the 3rd prize in the International Architecture Awards 2015 and an honorable mention in the Re-thinking the Future Awards. The project is also included in the Biennial Review of Finnish Architecture exhibition which will showcase 15 works from 2014 and 2015 selected by a distinguished jury. The exhibition will be open from 15 June until 2 October 2016 at the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

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