Everything is connected, linked. Everything is constantly in reaction to surrounding factors, everything works like an organism. This is our motto in finding a solution for the Tonle Sap Biosphere. We encapsulated all the problems in a general, flexible formula that can ripple different solutions according to its implementation. The solution had to be adapted to the main characteristics of the area such as water volume fluctuation between dry-rainy season, and the local Khmer cultural identity.
By shifting our attention to the past, we discovered that the Khmer civilization, in constructions such as the Angkor Wat, understood that their cities had to be built responsibly with respect towards the natural environment. Thus, the relationship between the plane geometry and water was a crucial factor in our design process.
By working towards a cultural evolution, we can generate economic rebirth that is constantly linked to the fluctuation of water in dry-wet seasons. If this theory is applied the end result will create accessible work for the villagers, enhance local craftsmanship, will preserve the biosphere with locally implemented strategies that find solutions for agriculture and fish management while still creating a sustainable cohabitation between humans and animals.
For the 1.2 million people that are calling Tonle Sap their home, we propose a series of flexible, easy to construct 6x6m, modular bamboo structures that float in concentrated areas around the lake. Having the section inspired by local houses, each structure is linked to another and has the ability to open up creating naturally ventilated spaces, sun shading and additional harbor platforms. The main implementation site is in the North-East as it can easily be connected to Siem Reaps hospital. The structures can be easily rearranged and replicated according to the villager’s position, either in the center of at the margins of the lake.
The proposed structure acts an addition to the existing villages, providing necessary functions such as minimal aid, research labs, public toilets and education for both its inhabitants and the tourists. From all the inhabitants inside the Tonle Sap lake there is roughly around 149,000 kg of human waste daily. By creating a series of underwater tanks it is possible to extract methane gas locally and generate electricity and fuel using a technique already implemented in Kenya.
The symbol or lighthouse of the intervention is a bamboo tower, inspired by local fishing baskets acting as a signal for those in need, a meeting and debate area for the villagers or a briefing site for the tourists. The tower is the only structure that is permanent, pivoting around its columns in response to the shifting water levels.
There is a time to be bold, but here, this is a time to be humble, sensitive to the voice of waters, discovering the architecture that the site itself seeks, bound to place, landscape, native country, man. Bringing together the elements an organic entity is formed, reacting as a body, the legacy of a great civilization lost in the silence, waters and winds of Cambodia.