Cambodia Architectural: Outsider Perspective Of Space

cambodian houses
upper view from a Cambodian house

One of the features that amazed me about the houses in Cambodia is their height. For example, the house I stayed was 3 stories and height of the foyer was about 15 feet. The top floor was another 15 feet. The stairs have no concept of “gentle incline”, they are steep, it reminded me of ancient Angkor Temples. It took me a couple of days to get use to the stairs. We went into a restaurant and the upper part of the restaurant was basically a 12ft ladder, nailed to the wall.
When I first say Angkor Wat, it felt that the temple was framing or trying to capture the sky. It was similar to the feeling I got when a saw the cathedrals in France. This is what I saw in the design of the homes in Cambodia. From that perspective, you can see the beauty in the design.
Many of the houses I saw had similar designs; they had the living room or foyer in front, kitchen and dining area in the back and the living quarters upstairs. The houses can easily be converted into a shop or business in the front and living area and the resident can live in the back and the top of the houses. That’s what many of the people did; they open a shop in their living room and lived upstairs. I was in the residential area and I saw many small shops, which use to be the living room, selling anything from shoes, bags, fruits, salons services, etc. Next door from where I was staying in Phnom Phen was a beauty salon, around the corner was a vibrant market ally that even had a small shop for everything, even a pizza shop.
Cambodian housing architecture seems to be a marriage of tradition and practicality. The tradition of capturing the open space and utilitarianism needs to make money. The marriage I so embedded into the society it is almost impossible to separate the two.

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