Text description provided by the architects. This refurbishment of a historical shop house in decay is located on the riverside of the sleepy colonial town of Kampot, Cambodia. It investigates the adaptation of a south east Asian typology to the more contemporary customs, such as of tourism and modern lifestyle. The main concept was to introduce the notion of preservation and importance of endangered colonial center with an innovative approach to showcase the transform of an old shophouse into a 320 sqms of modern residence with a restaurant on ground floor.
The amendments are very subtle and aim to blend seamlessly with the existing. The aim was to create a continuity between old and new and to offer a timeless experience for the inhabitant without copying the past. The house gathers a gourmet restaurant at ground floor and a modern residence on top. Each room is both, naturally ventilated and lit by a large courtyard. This ‘in-house’ courtyard is an evolution of the typical service lightwell / air well which existed in the house due to its length. We approached it as a central feature which hosts an interior landscape that blurs the inside - outside boundaries. A light metal spiral staircase distributes each of the rooms of the house. It creates a surprising narrative for the house as one walks up the stairs. After climbing the stairs, one ends at the top of the house, which we call the nest. It is a hidden lightweight metal structure, only visible from the inside, offering a view to the mountainous landscape of Kampot.
This project conveys the idea that the present can be anchored in tradition. This reinterpretation of the Chinese shophouse typology respectfully integrates a new program within the remains of the existing. The effects of time on the historical facade of the building are maintained while a new contemporary construction is inserted inside the heritage envelope to modernize the house and offer new use.
Due to its remote location and the difficulty to access the inside without having to demolish the delicate, old façade, BLOOM had to design the whole project capable to be built on site by autochthone workforce. Atelier Kampot is a manifesto for slow, thoughtful architecture, that uses conscious construction methods in collaboration with a selected team of local skilled workers and locally available materials. Recycled wood from the original house was reclaimed and used to make new custom furniture and windows. The natural patina blurs the boundaries between the old and the new to give the place a timeless feeling.