Look for the universal and the particular in the environment
This project is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It provides dormitories for executives near a factory. Most of the workers commute back to their Cambodian homes and move around in the endless wilderness nearby. Pure functional structures sporadically appear among the weeds to form an industrial landscape. Water towers, factories, sloping roofs, chimneys, fences, thick and horizontal clouds, and the yellow-green earth spread to the horizon, making the field a horizontal and infinite extension. How to provide a residential structure in this environment?
Reinforced brick construction is typical in rural Taiwan; a concrete frame in-filled with brick walls. But Cambodia is not in an earthquake zone. The concept of the structural concrete frame can be separated from the rationality of the construction. Whether a one or two story building, the dimension of columns and beams can be set at 25cm x 25cm. Given the economy of construction, we chose a column grid of 4x4m. We consciously express the column and beam as conceptual frame. Other forms of shear wall or beamless slab construction methods that may be visually interesting were not considered. We hope that the structural system will convey a spatial expression as ‘self-evident’ rather than any preconditioned aesthetics.
Directionality of space
No matter how the architecture is presented, it is an intermediary between its inhabitants and the environment. What are the kinds of architectural ideas that mediate the environment determines our world view. Do we want an entire field of infinitely repeated industrial landscape that makes people feel small? Or do we aspire to a safe and peaceful place to live? We do perpetuate a colonial aesthetic of domination, or a natural, relaxed order?
Viewed from the floor plan, the dormitory is a complete square. After closer inspection, there are more squares in the order. The configuration of patios, rooms, and toilets is the same. The square is a space without specific direction at the stage of architectural ideation , so that people in the square space can feel the state of no specific direction, which is different from the front, back, left and right configuration of the common long strip space in ordinary houses.
The horizontal painting is divided into two floors. The space planning on the first floor is more public, and the second floor is a relatively private with personal dormitory rooms. Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate, with high temperatures throughout the year with a dry and wet season. There are no natural disasters such as typhoons or earthquakes. Considering the local climate, it is necessary to create a semi-outdoor ventilation space, minimize the excessive use of air conditioners, and carry out the extension of the roof. The roof of the horizontal line is integrated on the low-level environmental plane, and does not overly highlight the existence of the building. Different from the obvious directionality of the sloping roof, the use of the horizontal roof shows the thinking without specific direction.
The rotating staircase at the periphery of the building provides another option for users to enter and exit the second floor. Different from the standard elongated staircase, the rotating staircase brings out the concept of no specific direction. During the process of allowing users to go up and down, each fixed point uniquely orients the landscape. Through the ingenuity of the rotating ladder, you can sense the integration of the building and its surrounding environment, as well as the variability of the pure white building under the light and shadow. The long staircase leading to the second floor in the interior of the building brings out a rational function that is different from the perceptual thinking of the rotating staircase. It connects the public nature of the first floor with the privacy of the second floor. And it harmonious connects two opposite elements acting as a ‘middleman’.
White is usually used in this sultry environment to reflect the radiant heat of the sun. Whether it is the surrounding tin house, this case or the clouds in the sultry climate, the expression of white in various shades appears. This white was originally conceived as a conceptual pure white, but after practice this white color of different tones unexpectedly become a kind of white that naturally blends with the field.
In an environment which lacks structure, the order of the building is used to anchor the relationship within the environment. The final completed photograph of the building is like a white model, detached from reality but integrated into the environment. The magic of this architecture is the effect that it wants to achieve. This is a dwelling that is accumulated by rational planes, and the scales of each other influence each other to construct this system.