Building Trust International has announced the winner of the organization’s 2018 Affordable Housing Design Challenge. Over 3,000 architects, designers, and engineers entered the competition and 400 design proposals were submitted. Each design sought to provide sustainable, safe, and secure affordable housing schemes that specifically target the needs of low income workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.




A jury composed of representatives from Building Trust International, The United Nations Development Program, and the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone selected ‘at Architecture’ as the challenge winner. Citing the feasibility of the architectural design and the scheme’s careful consideration of Cambodia’s natural environment, the jury saw the design as an optimal solution to a complex, local problem. With over 17,000 factory workers in the region, there are few options for high quality affordable homes. This forces many of these workers and their families to settle for short term rentals with less than adequate conditions and minimal security. These options are often shared spaces that only increase in demand as the number of workers continues to rise in the area.




‘at Architecture,’ based in Bombay, India, described their design as derived from four distinct principals: user comfort, community living, cost, and space efficiency/sustainability. The firm’s design mission is founded in creating a harmonious relationship between architecture and its natural surroundings. The jury identified many of these features as critical elements of the design and its success. Not only were the living spaces both comfortable and highly functional, they were enhanced by a clever use of natural ventilation strategies and a seamless integration into public and community spaces, including: green spaces, retail zones, open gathering spaces, and pedestrian zones.




This October, an exhibition showcasing the top designs will continue to catalyze these efforts and raise awareness to advocate for a global initiative and support for investments in sustainable, affordable housing in underserved areas like Phnom Penh.




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