Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

/ Phnom Penh, Cambodia /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

Like a dream turning into a vibrant reality, a trio of small houses sits beautifully ensconced in a cul-de-sac away from the noise and traffic on the main thoroughfare in central Phnom Penh. Together they occupy the full extent of a tiny piece of property, with leafy vines growing luxuriantly covering much of the front façade in subdued earthy reds.

small houses cambodia

The lush covering conveys a great deal about the architect’s firm determination to overcome space constraints and create enjoyable homes against all odds. The result is a trio of thoughtfully devised living spaces made cozy and comfortable by allowing fresh, outdoor air and natural light into the home.

Plus, dense green trailing plants add privacy to the inside, a clever hack to let nature permeate and protect the home from the glare of the midday sun.

small houses cambodia

Albeit small, the three houses have four levels of usable space and functions, including a sky garden on the rooftop deck. The building façades crafted of concrete breeze blocks in dark shades of reds blend with the vertical garden growing luxuriantly on the balconies, creating a pleasing combination clearly visible from a distance.

Together they form a double-layer thermal envelope that’s the first line of defense against the harsh sun and rain. For neat appearances, the three entrance doors at street level blend into the shimmering perforate façades adorned with climbing plants.

Flashback: Old photographs show the physical appearance of the subsidiary street neighborhood prior to construction. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
A diagrammatic representation of the subsidiary street neighborhood where the trio of small houses islocated. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
First-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Second-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Third-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
A simplified drawing shows space utilization on the rooftop decks of the three houses. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Concrete breeze blocks with a concave outline designed and manufactured for outer shell construction. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
small houses cambodia
Concrete breeze blocks in subdued earthy reds blend perfectly with the dense green foliage on the building façade.

Being of the right size and shape, the three homes fit perfectly into a square-shaped piece of land. The first two houses are relatively small, with similar square-shaped plans built side by side facing the same way. The third house is rectangular shaped and slightly larger. It’s situated at the rear of the property facing a different direction.

small houses cambodia

small houses cambodia
Double height ceiling design makes the small living space fell larger and more comfortable.

small houses cambodia

With regard to interior design, the first floor holds a spacious, uncluttered living room with a kitchenette for entertaining houseguests, while the more secluded second and third levels contain bedrooms.

The fourth floor is a rooftop deck with semi-outdoor sitting rooms for relaxation and leafy plants thriving in containers placed along the edges. The same interior layout applies to all three, except for the rooftop decks of the two front units that are connected to create a bigger shared space.

small houses cambodia

Quite the contrary to what might be expected, it’s a trio of small homes with larger house functionality, plus roomy, uncluttered design made for cozy, comfortable living.

What is lacking in terms of space is nicely compensated for by well-thought-out design, plus plenty of refreshing greenery all around. Like a pleasant surprise, they make perfect escapes, a trio of quiet and secluded family homes despite their proximity to the hustle and bustle of downtown Phnom Penh.

Here, the secrets to a happy home lies in the perforate shells adorned with leafy vines keeping the snug interior nice and warm all year round.

small houses cambodia
Green leafy plants growing luxuriantly on the balcony provide refreshing coolness and privacy protection for the bedroom.
Semi-outdoor room on the rooftop deck is decorated with plants thriving in containers along the side of the building.

small houses cambodia

small houses cambodia
The perforate shell covered in lush greenery provides a focal point and sense of space in the neighborhood.

By design, the perforate facades made of concrete breeze blocks serve as engine that drive natural ventilation keeping the home cool in summer. They also allow just the right amounts of daylight streaming into the interior turning it into an oasis of calm during the daytime.

On the outside, they add an extra layer of protection from sun and rain, creating a double-layer outer shell that allows air to pass through the intermediate gap in between.

More so than anything else, they provide a visual combination showcasing the beauty of simplicity, the power of nature and human ingenuity in providing solutions to problems and overcoming challenges. It’s as simple as that!

small houses cambodia
A slab of concrete at the bottom of the window frame affords a good view of the neighborhood below.

Architect: Antoine Meinnel of Bloom Architecture (

Design Team: Antoine Meinnel, Kong Lim, Ny Kechseang, Heng Thanak

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