/page/2

More than anything, the field trip to Cambodia has made me question the role of the urban designer in effecting transformation. Currently I feel as though there are broadly two positions that urban designers can take through which to do meaningful work: one, is to position themselves as external to a community, using human-centred research methodologies to unearth needs and aspirations of its members and designing solutions for them based on insights derived from the research, and hope that some of that methodology is adopted by communities, i.e. similar to what we did in Cambodia. The other is for actual members of the community to have aforementioned research and design capabilities and to contribute solutions as engaged citizens. Here’s the challenge: While I think that the latter has greater long-term impact, I think that the former is more realistic. There is no framework for designers to be embedded in their communities - there is no policies, no programmes, no funding. There is no discourse around this idea! There is designing “with”, “by”, “for”, “through” communities, but no designing “as” community.

As BUDD students, we hope to have learned to address longer-term change in designing interventions, but still, we do so from a particular position as outsiders. During our field trip in Cambodia I began to wonder how design processes would look if I lived in one of those communities, or if members of the communities we collaborated with had access to the methodologies and experience (and education) that we had. What if every human being had access and such capabilities (to some extent) and was able to practise them in their environment? Rather than attempting to “solve” issues related to the built environment through external research and design processes, why not “solve” those same issue by investing in education of such processes at the grassroots? No doubt, this require a lot of further thought and field testing :)

/ Neysan

Understanding the Transcience in Transformation

Before the field trip, I was uncertain about the case and our altered dictionary understanding of the word “Transformation” as it was very difficult to ground it in the reality. The elements of Time, scale  and space within an process and also our report group themes, namely, Land Tenure, Catalyst for community Action, Transience and contested spaces.

However I raised some key questions, like what form of transformation, and transformation for who? given the vast interest groups (government, Ngo’s, local & international Private developers, Urban poor, middle class and add to this complexity the younger generation both learned and unlearned) and the different scenarios that where historically created, that continually are being generated and can possibly be generated from this transience in the subject(Cambodia’s People).

Foucaults describes the transition of power from more physical forms to more subtle and unseen forms of power and this is the same transition that Cambodia went through as seen experience from the Khmer rouge till now . However the different social groups (academics, during these changes ‘’experienced” transience differently amongst the army, poor, the academics,the youth, politicians, farmers among others, as each group had its criteria. notwithstanding the physical realm of land in which this transition had an impact on Cambodia’s physical environment as well. This impact creates new spaces of interaction socially, economically, politically and culturally. I believe this relates to Lefebre’s description of transformative potential which utters ‘a revolution that does not produce a new space has not realized its full potential’ thus Cambodia is still in a state of transformation for me and the continuous changes will realise different potentialities towards its growth and recovery.

overall my post field trip understanding of transformation is as a process resulting from multiple experiences at different scales happening in time which are infinite, and also it is manipulated by different actors; the political, community groups, economical, cultural and  external influences of Globalisation. This transformation happens in a space that is transient in nature both positively and negatively creating opportunities. These resulting opportunities created by this constant transition are the potentialities in the production of new spaces of contestation and interaction. For Cambodia to realise its true transformative potential these new spaces created have to be inclusive, just, and flexible for the people as it is shaped by them.

Martin I B

  

This field trip gives me an opportunity to practice how to collect information of community and how to communicate with people who has totally different background with me.

Transformation on the ground

To give a definition of transformation for Cambodia is a meaningful challenge for me, because the similar transformation is also happening in my home country, China. For me ,to grow up in China, leaning this course in the UK and have this field trip case in Cambodia, ia already a big transformation. Different background gave me variety of materials and let me think about the common and contrast of the understanding of transformation in these three countries. At the same time, the similar local context and political situation remains me of my own country and help me a lot on understanding the current issues.

The kmer rough period last only 5 years, but it brought a big negative influence to the economic development and the people’s mentality. Even from the now day Cambodia, I can see the sequel from that period. The sequel together with  the high population of Buddhism, which going along with the rapid urbanization, is bring the biggest ever transformation to this country. The political influence, religion influence and the external influence create a very interesting fusion itself. When we talk about transformation, we should not forget apart from the modern skyscrapers, transformation is also happening inside the political system and people’s minds. They are the driving core under the mechanical skin.

Of course, all the analysis above is my pre-understanding of Cambodia before I go there. They are gained from text book and internet, through leaning a theory of urbanization, they are unnecessary as same as what we see and experience in Cambodia. All the theoretical analysis with lose its power when disconnect on the process of grounding down. In fact, that is a big issue of the informal settlement in the city margin of Cambodia. Even the government notice the problem and try to come up with some solutions. But something really works is yet to come. That proves there is a gap between the upper and lower level on the way the policy is implementing. I want to take this as a entry point of the change.

Arriving in Cambodia:

We arrived in Cambodia with the pre understanding of transformation. The communities visiting in the first few days help us to find our position immediately. We apparently came with a too high theoretical analysis, which is not easy to apply right into what we saw. We then put away a bit of the theory and start our on field analysis base on more practical stuff. This was also helped by having the site group. By the starting time, I had a impression that we normally first see a country through its good side and later the bad side, but this time we choose to begin in a opposite way. Even though, it was not as tough as what I expected because of the local students. They helped me a lot on getting use to everything. Even some of them have never been to a informal settlement before either. (That also shows part of the economic inequality to me)

Site work

The work we did on the site is a way to getting layer and layer into the core problem and understand the real perception of people. It was a practice of what we learn at school in the last 8 months. A the same time, working parallel with site and report group gave me a chance to see all the cases through a “transformative” lenses.   

For most of the communities, the urban transformation (city’s expending) is the reason of moving close to the city, because that means they are moving close to the infrastructure and work opportunities. Even though, the other transformation which driven by the new educated generation is giving them a chance to empower themselves. That’s also what I believe that transformation should be coming from both ways (Up to down and bottom up).

By communicating with the dwellers, I feel strongly the diligence and simplicity of them. That makes me criticize myself as a architect, what I can and should do for them? What’s my role in this big transformation? Because in different position, everyone has its own understanding of city, work and home. Even for them, what we understand as urban development could be very different from what they understand. But through these three-week’s working with all these people, I gradually find a balance point and some common aims.

 

Site proposal

For our site of Russey Keo, the massive size and its riverside context are most recognized. Especially the river, its richlyendowned, but its flooding at the same time. That’s why the dwellers loves it and hate it at the same time. The up-down policies has very limit seen result apart from the eviction threaten, which made a consequence of people’s reduction on community responsibility. That shows even the government have a plan of the riverside, the dwellers are unnecessary involved in the plan. Lack of community responsibility and solidarity made themselves Vulnerable. The only way to help the situation is unite themselves through the network that they already have: CDF.

That’s our final site proposal apart from the physical infrastructure upgrading and partnership finding on the river. Building up a younger election system for the CDF network in necessary. When the net work s strong, it is not only easier for them to control and upgrade the community. They will also feel more confident and responded when they facing the government. All of these do not sound like a quick job, but it is what I understand a real transformation should start form. It should start from the root, with people. CDF is a good link between the communities and the higher authorities.

About the way of working, I really enjoy the 5 days I spend on the site. Because smaller size of group gave everyone a chance to hold more information, and be more confident to share. That is actually very efficient.

This field trip to Cambodia is an introspection of both the case and myself. It is significance in every aspect. It is a real case of what we learn and when we left, people continue their life. That make me think of the meaning of my job as a architect and how does it fit into this global transformation.

Fish YU CHEN

Resistance & Creativity

Sebastian Troncoso

The greys of Cambodia: Re-thinking and looking the big picture (please)

“One always has exaggerated ideas about what one doesn’t know.” 
                                                                          Albert CamusThe Stranger

The first impression of Cambodia is difficult to digest, despite all the preamble, the reality hits violently. In that sense, especially if you are or claims to be a practitioner, and also aims to contribute their bit to the development of Cambodia please do not stay with the first impression and reappraise everything at the end.

It is difficult not to be tempted to say that nothing works well, that everything is corrupt: the state, institutions, Chinese investors, that the NGO’s are a plague that do not allow better development of Cambodia and conclude that the responsibility lies with citizens who ought to be more active and take the bull by the horns once and for all.

Here it is clear that you did not understand anything, please try again!

The definition of Yiftachel where he talks about the gray cities is a good starting point to begin to observe Cambodia: “Urban spheres lying between full state sanction and expulsion, destruction or death” (Roy,2009, p.9) No doubt that in Cambodia the state it is exceeded, relegating responsibility to other actors such as NGO’s and foreign investors to generate development projects such as the public transport system in Phnom Penh.

Therefore the general perception is that the vast majority of the population is abandoned and not protected by the state.

The space between the state and the expulsion and destruction is a big range of greys that need to be considering as a possible entry points to complex reality. So understanding the reality is more related to nuances rather than two irreconcilable extremes.

That look of blacks and whites was very present before and during the workshop in Cambodia. Understanding that there are outcomes that will be worked in the future, and also  that there will be a field trip # 2 to Cambodia there is a responsibility to assume in generate deeper reflections, for that the strategies have an impact and generate a processes of change.

Most glances established the need for a more empowered citizenship, able to be articulated and be an effective counterweight in decision-making at the time of producing the city. Miraftab speaks of Insurgent Planning as the “planning practices that respond to neoliberal specific dominance, those that are counter-hegemonic, transgressive and imaginative”. (Roy 2010, p.8)

This is where it begins to play the ability to identify opportunities to perform. The role of NGOs as mediators in this process of emancipation of the Cambodian people, that seems to be the only possible way today. In that sense it could not always see clearly the importance of this support network, rather what was seen was suspicion on the part of the practitioners.

For example in the case of CDF, who were in sites where there is little presence of this NGO, the response were strategies without these actors, losing the global view of the role played in political and social level in Cambodia.

A suitable criticism of the role of NGOs is the charitable nature of the projects that do not address essence of inequality nor deliver social tools for residents to be able to change reality. This coupled with a weak networking complicates the long term perspective.

Cambodia is possible without NGO’s?

Today seems to be a discontinuous process of interactions between actors, communities and authorities, where the city co production does not exist. Perea define the concept of familiarization as “the process by which the subaltern citizen comes to inhabit, reshape, and rewrite the space of colonizer. The room for familiarization is afforded by the incompleteness pf formal urban system…these have gaps, cracks, and depend on exceptions” (Roy 2009, p.8)

What is seen faintly in various settlements is a logic of resistance, adaptation and creativity to overcome adversity. There is not much networking inside or outside these places. This is important work to do, scaling up these individual initiatives and make it collective in sustainable and transformative projects.

Today the reality tells us more of survivals than resistance in Cambodia but there are always opportunities to trigger processes of radical change and these necessarily seem to pass for understand the complex relationship between communities, NGOs and the state.

Probably the “insurgent citizenship” spoken of James Holston is not just around the corner, but certainly there is strength and creativity in various grays that were observed in those distant lands.

 

Sebastian Troncoso

Bibliography:

Roy Ananya, 2009, Strangely Familiar: Planning and The Worlds of Insurgence and Informality, Planning Theory.image

Analytical Frame work of Borei Keila

Poitical and Economical Contestation on the Site:

The main actors in Borei Keila comprise of the 8 community leaders, Phanimex (private developer), the khan and the people (residents in the blocks and squatters outside). there are supposedly 10 communities in Borei keila, however, 8 communities are occupying the 8 blocks, and the other the 2blocks where not built, thus of 1776 residents, 340 didn’t get a flat. Phanimex stopped the construction project filing for bankruptcy and this increased the mistrust amongst the people and the government, Developer, and NGO’s. No one wanted to deal with tis case as it involved vested political interests. The image below is the intended space for the last two blocks.

ppp.JPG

The fragmentation amongst those who managed to get a flat versus those that didn’t. This fragmentation intensified when the 11 police families decided not to move into the upper floors because most of their comrades got the lower level flats. This was because the lower level flats were priced highly compared to the top floors, and this would have been different with the inclusion of a lift. the police that didn’t get a flat decided to move into the old Borei Keila flat.

The lack of accountability and transparency within the community leaders, the private company, the municipality and the people has caused further division and given the previous evictions and no secure housing tenure, this has led to mistrust within the system. this can be seen from our interviews, that show most of the residents are new to Borei Keila, are renting from the company and the flat owners, and also have no idea about the history of the development. this raises the question of who has a right to getting a flat. the community leaders are obsessed with 2003 documents to prove who is legible to get a flat, which makes no sense  considering the current residents and the squatters are who are willing to rent the 40 empty flats are not considered. this lack of sense of ownership can be seen from the large amounts of garbage dumbing around the site.  

Sanitation and infrastructure:

Considering the Garbage problem, Cintri was contracted by the Khan 7 Makara to handle refuse, however due to the narrow spaces in BRKL’s built fabric which complimented by the  density of the spatial use, cintri is only able to access 2 block at BLock A and F, needless to say their input alone will not solve the garbage problem. this garbage problem needs a collective approach involving the residents and the community leaders .

P1010506.JPG

Limited sanitation provision for informal settlements and the providers are phanimex and municipality and community leaders. most of the 156 families have no water and only have two washrooms located on blocks A&F. This are mainly families squatting outsides the Blocks C,D,E,F,&G and are quite distant. However a few families in the squatter settlements are able to pay for private connection of  private water mains and this is shared between families within the tent structures.

P1010778.JPG

For the families that cannot afford to have their own water meter so they rents the two wash rooms mentioned in blocks A & F. The families pay 500R per wash. If a family uses this service just 2 times a week, it is an expense of 4000R per month. Note that most families average saving per month is 3000 Riel, furthermore if a family uses this everyday,  for a month, they would pay 15,000R and for 100 families it would cost them 150,000R. this money is enough to maintain and create more wash rooms for the families, needless to say its a human right.

Poor living conditions lead to the low accessibility to sanitation services for informal  settlements. sharing of 2 washrooms amongst 80% of the families living in the squatter settlements behind the site.

Spatial usage and Housing:

A standard Flat unit in the BLocks is 8X4 Sqm and the hieght is 3.3m which allows for a mezzanine floor to create more bedroms and there is use of the balcony space for laundry, cooking, as an extra space, for sleeping as well. Since most families have 2-5 children we discovered that there is a collective role among the neighbours with regards to upbringing and teaching. The  use of the main corridor spaces for shops not only happened in the main floors but also among the squatters as well. Mix-use of space is common within Borei Keila and this fits in a diversity of activities and instrumentality in the everyday life of the people as seen below.

P1010447.JPG

Martin

Site Experience During the Borei Keila Study In Cambodia

The introduction of the Borei Keila case was an interesting phenomenon in rethinking my approach to design as i formerly practiced mainstream Architecture, the element “positionality” comes into question. The way we are taught in class to perceive the reality as an academician, culturally, as an architect, and as an influence from my personal background shakes the linearity in ones thinking to be more diverse in terms of the number of issues that architecture is dependant on. As seen in Borei Keila the development were dependant on the Land, the economy, infrastructure, contested space, policy and people.

First I would like to mention my site experience was indifferent because of the contextual difference and cultural shock. the large number of informal  businesses in a row seemed like a long narrow business street comparable to London’s Oxford Circus street but at a very informal level. As time  progressed and unexpected interactions with the people, i grew fond of the high level of liveliness along the corridors of the apartment blocks Commercial pathways.

P1010438.JPG
Figure 1. Showing C0mmercial corridor of Borei Keila.

P1010453.JPGFigure 2. showing the

Production of space in Borei Keila is currently influenced by political power. there is a clear difference between those in control and those at the receiving end. which is not restrictive but is representative of both the positive and the negative. the right to housing, the use of commercial space, the issue of security f tenure and the provision if infrastructure. The most contested space is the community/commercial space at the ground floor where Phanimex is subletting this space to the residents, which is supposed to be controlled by the community leaders. most of the ground floors commercial space is used for housing

During the transect walk, the photographer(Kino) and I moved through all the squatters settlements behind the apartment blocks A-H, gathering Data for mapping, where i experienced the bad odours and the unsightly compilation of Garbage around the which is one of the biggest problems of Borei keila. the lack of a sense of ownership by the community results in their negligence towards garbage disposal. During our interviews we found that about 90 families within the squatters had two wash rooms among them

Furthermore, as garbage is the first thing one observes, the real root cause of this is embedded in the history of the site, given that it was the first land sharing project that was not successful in that 340 former residents  that where promised a flat didn’t get one, and this sparked a protest in early 2012 along with the forced evictions by armed government forces in which people where injured both physically and mentally. so this begs the question, “who is the government protecting?”.

Double standards best describes the transparency with which one can acquire a flat given that  most of the residents interviewed were not originally from Borei Keila and during our presentation to the municipality, the community leaders strongly pushed for the legal documents as a proof of right to get a flat, however they ignored the possibility of renting to squatters which i felt was a form of segregation.

Martin

buddesign1314:

Daily Borei Keila through the BUDDies eyes.

Ecological problem of Borei Keila.

All this rubbish are very dangerous for the local people and neighbourhood. If the problem persists it will lead to a long-term illness and disease of young generation.
This local scale waste problem can become to a city level issue or even bigger.
It’s better to see once than to hear.

Askar Taksym

http://buddesign.tumblr.com/post/86886205163/im-the-only-one-who-volunteered-to-join-the

buddesign:

image

“I’m the only one who volunteered to join the group for Borei Keila, other students are all afraid of this case because of the previous horrible things happened in this place”, our Cambodian student partner told me. This is my first impression of my site on the first site-visiting day.

Before…

JING LI

More than anything, the field trip to Cambodia has made me question the role of the urban designer in effecting transformation. Currently I feel as though there are broadly two positions that urban designers can take through which to do meaningful work: one, is to position themselves as external to a community, using human-centred research methodologies to unearth needs and aspirations of its members and designing solutions for them based on insights derived from the research, and hope that some of that methodology is adopted by communities, i.e. similar to what we did in Cambodia. The other is for actual members of the community to have aforementioned research and design capabilities and to contribute solutions as engaged citizens. Here’s the challenge: While I think that the latter has greater long-term impact, I think that the former is more realistic. There is no framework for designers to be embedded in their communities - there is no policies, no programmes, no funding. There is no discourse around this idea! There is designing “with”, “by”, “for”, “through” communities, but no designing “as” community.

As BUDD students, we hope to have learned to address longer-term change in designing interventions, but still, we do so from a particular position as outsiders. During our field trip in Cambodia I began to wonder how design processes would look if I lived in one of those communities, or if members of the communities we collaborated with had access to the methodologies and experience (and education) that we had. What if every human being had access and such capabilities (to some extent) and was able to practise them in their environment? Rather than attempting to “solve” issues related to the built environment through external research and design processes, why not “solve” those same issue by investing in education of such processes at the grassroots? No doubt, this require a lot of further thought and field testing :)

/ Neysan

Understanding the Transcience in Transformation

Before the field trip, I was uncertain about the case and our altered dictionary understanding of the word “Transformation” as it was very difficult to ground it in the reality. The elements of Time, scale  and space within an process and also our report group themes, namely, Land Tenure, Catalyst for community Action, Transience and contested spaces.

However I raised some key questions, like what form of transformation, and transformation for who? given the vast interest groups (government, Ngo’s, local & international Private developers, Urban poor, middle class and add to this complexity the younger generation both learned and unlearned) and the different scenarios that where historically created, that continually are being generated and can possibly be generated from this transience in the subject(Cambodia’s People).

Foucaults describes the transition of power from more physical forms to more subtle and unseen forms of power and this is the same transition that Cambodia went through as seen experience from the Khmer rouge till now . However the different social groups (academics, during these changes ‘’experienced” transience differently amongst the army, poor, the academics,the youth, politicians, farmers among others, as each group had its criteria. notwithstanding the physical realm of land in which this transition had an impact on Cambodia’s physical environment as well. This impact creates new spaces of interaction socially, economically, politically and culturally. I believe this relates to Lefebre’s description of transformative potential which utters ‘a revolution that does not produce a new space has not realized its full potential’ thus Cambodia is still in a state of transformation for me and the continuous changes will realise different potentialities towards its growth and recovery.

overall my post field trip understanding of transformation is as a process resulting from multiple experiences at different scales happening in time which are infinite, and also it is manipulated by different actors; the political, community groups, economical, cultural and  external influences of Globalisation. This transformation happens in a space that is transient in nature both positively and negatively creating opportunities. These resulting opportunities created by this constant transition are the potentialities in the production of new spaces of contestation and interaction. For Cambodia to realise its true transformative potential these new spaces created have to be inclusive, just, and flexible for the people as it is shaped by them.

Martin I B

  

This field trip gives me an opportunity to practice how to collect information of community and how to communicate with people who has totally different background with me.

Transformation on the ground

To give a definition of transformation for Cambodia is a meaningful challenge for me, because the similar transformation is also happening in my home country, China. For me ,to grow up in China, leaning this course in the UK and have this field trip case in Cambodia, ia already a big transformation. Different background gave me variety of materials and let me think about the common and contrast of the understanding of transformation in these three countries. At the same time, the similar local context and political situation remains me of my own country and help me a lot on understanding the current issues.

The kmer rough period last only 5 years, but it brought a big negative influence to the economic development and the people’s mentality. Even from the now day Cambodia, I can see the sequel from that period. The sequel together with  the high population of Buddhism, which going along with the rapid urbanization, is bring the biggest ever transformation to this country. The political influence, religion influence and the external influence create a very interesting fusion itself. When we talk about transformation, we should not forget apart from the modern skyscrapers, transformation is also happening inside the political system and people’s minds. They are the driving core under the mechanical skin.

Of course, all the analysis above is my pre-understanding of Cambodia before I go there. They are gained from text book and internet, through leaning a theory of urbanization, they are unnecessary as same as what we see and experience in Cambodia. All the theoretical analysis with lose its power when disconnect on the process of grounding down. In fact, that is a big issue of the informal settlement in the city margin of Cambodia. Even the government notice the problem and try to come up with some solutions. But something really works is yet to come. That proves there is a gap between the upper and lower level on the way the policy is implementing. I want to take this as a entry point of the change.

Arriving in Cambodia:

We arrived in Cambodia with the pre understanding of transformation. The communities visiting in the first few days help us to find our position immediately. We apparently came with a too high theoretical analysis, which is not easy to apply right into what we saw. We then put away a bit of the theory and start our on field analysis base on more practical stuff. This was also helped by having the site group. By the starting time, I had a impression that we normally first see a country through its good side and later the bad side, but this time we choose to begin in a opposite way. Even though, it was not as tough as what I expected because of the local students. They helped me a lot on getting use to everything. Even some of them have never been to a informal settlement before either. (That also shows part of the economic inequality to me)

Site work

The work we did on the site is a way to getting layer and layer into the core problem and understand the real perception of people. It was a practice of what we learn at school in the last 8 months. A the same time, working parallel with site and report group gave me a chance to see all the cases through a “transformative” lenses.   

For most of the communities, the urban transformation (city’s expending) is the reason of moving close to the city, because that means they are moving close to the infrastructure and work opportunities. Even though, the other transformation which driven by the new educated generation is giving them a chance to empower themselves. That’s also what I believe that transformation should be coming from both ways (Up to down and bottom up).

By communicating with the dwellers, I feel strongly the diligence and simplicity of them. That makes me criticize myself as a architect, what I can and should do for them? What’s my role in this big transformation? Because in different position, everyone has its own understanding of city, work and home. Even for them, what we understand as urban development could be very different from what they understand. But through these three-week’s working with all these people, I gradually find a balance point and some common aims.

 

Site proposal

For our site of Russey Keo, the massive size and its riverside context are most recognized. Especially the river, its richlyendowned, but its flooding at the same time. That’s why the dwellers loves it and hate it at the same time. The up-down policies has very limit seen result apart from the eviction threaten, which made a consequence of people’s reduction on community responsibility. That shows even the government have a plan of the riverside, the dwellers are unnecessary involved in the plan. Lack of community responsibility and solidarity made themselves Vulnerable. The only way to help the situation is unite themselves through the network that they already have: CDF.

That’s our final site proposal apart from the physical infrastructure upgrading and partnership finding on the river. Building up a younger election system for the CDF network in necessary. When the net work s strong, it is not only easier for them to control and upgrade the community. They will also feel more confident and responded when they facing the government. All of these do not sound like a quick job, but it is what I understand a real transformation should start form. It should start from the root, with people. CDF is a good link between the communities and the higher authorities.

About the way of working, I really enjoy the 5 days I spend on the site. Because smaller size of group gave everyone a chance to hold more information, and be more confident to share. That is actually very efficient.

This field trip to Cambodia is an introspection of both the case and myself. It is significance in every aspect. It is a real case of what we learn and when we left, people continue their life. That make me think of the meaning of my job as a architect and how does it fit into this global transformation.

Fish YU CHEN

Resistance & Creativity

Sebastian Troncoso

The greys of Cambodia: Re-thinking and looking the big picture (please)

“One always has exaggerated ideas about what one doesn’t know.” 
                                                                          Albert CamusThe Stranger

The first impression of Cambodia is difficult to digest, despite all the preamble, the reality hits violently. In that sense, especially if you are or claims to be a practitioner, and also aims to contribute their bit to the development of Cambodia please do not stay with the first impression and reappraise everything at the end.

It is difficult not to be tempted to say that nothing works well, that everything is corrupt: the state, institutions, Chinese investors, that the NGO’s are a plague that do not allow better development of Cambodia and conclude that the responsibility lies with citizens who ought to be more active and take the bull by the horns once and for all.

Here it is clear that you did not understand anything, please try again!

The definition of Yiftachel where he talks about the gray cities is a good starting point to begin to observe Cambodia: “Urban spheres lying between full state sanction and expulsion, destruction or death” (Roy,2009, p.9) No doubt that in Cambodia the state it is exceeded, relegating responsibility to other actors such as NGO’s and foreign investors to generate development projects such as the public transport system in Phnom Penh.

Therefore the general perception is that the vast majority of the population is abandoned and not protected by the state.

The space between the state and the expulsion and destruction is a big range of greys that need to be considering as a possible entry points to complex reality. So understanding the reality is more related to nuances rather than two irreconcilable extremes.

That look of blacks and whites was very present before and during the workshop in Cambodia. Understanding that there are outcomes that will be worked in the future, and also  that there will be a field trip # 2 to Cambodia there is a responsibility to assume in generate deeper reflections, for that the strategies have an impact and generate a processes of change.

Most glances established the need for a more empowered citizenship, able to be articulated and be an effective counterweight in decision-making at the time of producing the city. Miraftab speaks of Insurgent Planning as the “planning practices that respond to neoliberal specific dominance, those that are counter-hegemonic, transgressive and imaginative”. (Roy 2010, p.8)

This is where it begins to play the ability to identify opportunities to perform. The role of NGOs as mediators in this process of emancipation of the Cambodian people, that seems to be the only possible way today. In that sense it could not always see clearly the importance of this support network, rather what was seen was suspicion on the part of the practitioners.

For example in the case of CDF, who were in sites where there is little presence of this NGO, the response were strategies without these actors, losing the global view of the role played in political and social level in Cambodia.

A suitable criticism of the role of NGOs is the charitable nature of the projects that do not address essence of inequality nor deliver social tools for residents to be able to change reality. This coupled with a weak networking complicates the long term perspective.

Cambodia is possible without NGO’s?

Today seems to be a discontinuous process of interactions between actors, communities and authorities, where the city co production does not exist. Perea define the concept of familiarization as “the process by which the subaltern citizen comes to inhabit, reshape, and rewrite the space of colonizer. The room for familiarization is afforded by the incompleteness pf formal urban system…these have gaps, cracks, and depend on exceptions” (Roy 2009, p.8)

What is seen faintly in various settlements is a logic of resistance, adaptation and creativity to overcome adversity. There is not much networking inside or outside these places. This is important work to do, scaling up these individual initiatives and make it collective in sustainable and transformative projects.

Today the reality tells us more of survivals than resistance in Cambodia but there are always opportunities to trigger processes of radical change and these necessarily seem to pass for understand the complex relationship between communities, NGOs and the state.

Probably the “insurgent citizenship” spoken of James Holston is not just around the corner, but certainly there is strength and creativity in various grays that were observed in those distant lands.

 

Sebastian Troncoso

Bibliography:

Roy Ananya, 2009, Strangely Familiar: Planning and The Worlds of Insurgence and Informality, Planning Theory.image

Analytical Frame work of Borei Keila

Poitical and Economical Contestation on the Site:

The main actors in Borei Keila comprise of the 8 community leaders, Phanimex (private developer), the khan and the people (residents in the blocks and squatters outside). there are supposedly 10 communities in Borei keila, however, 8 communities are occupying the 8 blocks, and the other the 2blocks where not built, thus of 1776 residents, 340 didn’t get a flat. Phanimex stopped the construction project filing for bankruptcy and this increased the mistrust amongst the people and the government, Developer, and NGO’s. No one wanted to deal with tis case as it involved vested political interests. The image below is the intended space for the last two blocks.

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The fragmentation amongst those who managed to get a flat versus those that didn’t. This fragmentation intensified when the 11 police families decided not to move into the upper floors because most of their comrades got the lower level flats. This was because the lower level flats were priced highly compared to the top floors, and this would have been different with the inclusion of a lift. the police that didn’t get a flat decided to move into the old Borei Keila flat.

The lack of accountability and transparency within the community leaders, the private company, the municipality and the people has caused further division and given the previous evictions and no secure housing tenure, this has led to mistrust within the system. this can be seen from our interviews, that show most of the residents are new to Borei Keila, are renting from the company and the flat owners, and also have no idea about the history of the development. this raises the question of who has a right to getting a flat. the community leaders are obsessed with 2003 documents to prove who is legible to get a flat, which makes no sense  considering the current residents and the squatters are who are willing to rent the 40 empty flats are not considered. this lack of sense of ownership can be seen from the large amounts of garbage dumbing around the site.  

Sanitation and infrastructure:

Considering the Garbage problem, Cintri was contracted by the Khan 7 Makara to handle refuse, however due to the narrow spaces in BRKL’s built fabric which complimented by the  density of the spatial use, cintri is only able to access 2 block at BLock A and F, needless to say their input alone will not solve the garbage problem. this garbage problem needs a collective approach involving the residents and the community leaders .

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Limited sanitation provision for informal settlements and the providers are phanimex and municipality and community leaders. most of the 156 families have no water and only have two washrooms located on blocks A&F. This are mainly families squatting outsides the Blocks C,D,E,F,&G and are quite distant. However a few families in the squatter settlements are able to pay for private connection of  private water mains and this is shared between families within the tent structures.

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For the families that cannot afford to have their own water meter so they rents the two wash rooms mentioned in blocks A & F. The families pay 500R per wash. If a family uses this service just 2 times a week, it is an expense of 4000R per month. Note that most families average saving per month is 3000 Riel, furthermore if a family uses this everyday,  for a month, they would pay 15,000R and for 100 families it would cost them 150,000R. this money is enough to maintain and create more wash rooms for the families, needless to say its a human right.

Poor living conditions lead to the low accessibility to sanitation services for informal  settlements. sharing of 2 washrooms amongst 80% of the families living in the squatter settlements behind the site.

Spatial usage and Housing:

A standard Flat unit in the BLocks is 8X4 Sqm and the hieght is 3.3m which allows for a mezzanine floor to create more bedroms and there is use of the balcony space for laundry, cooking, as an extra space, for sleeping as well. Since most families have 2-5 children we discovered that there is a collective role among the neighbours with regards to upbringing and teaching. The  use of the main corridor spaces for shops not only happened in the main floors but also among the squatters as well. Mix-use of space is common within Borei Keila and this fits in a diversity of activities and instrumentality in the everyday life of the people as seen below.

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Martin

Site Experience During the Borei Keila Study In Cambodia

The introduction of the Borei Keila case was an interesting phenomenon in rethinking my approach to design as i formerly practiced mainstream Architecture, the element “positionality” comes into question. The way we are taught in class to perceive the reality as an academician, culturally, as an architect, and as an influence from my personal background shakes the linearity in ones thinking to be more diverse in terms of the number of issues that architecture is dependant on. As seen in Borei Keila the development were dependant on the Land, the economy, infrastructure, contested space, policy and people.

First I would like to mention my site experience was indifferent because of the contextual difference and cultural shock. the large number of informal  businesses in a row seemed like a long narrow business street comparable to London’s Oxford Circus street but at a very informal level. As time  progressed and unexpected interactions with the people, i grew fond of the high level of liveliness along the corridors of the apartment blocks Commercial pathways.

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Figure 1. Showing C0mmercial corridor of Borei Keila.

P1010453.JPGFigure 2. showing the

Production of space in Borei Keila is currently influenced by political power. there is a clear difference between those in control and those at the receiving end. which is not restrictive but is representative of both the positive and the negative. the right to housing, the use of commercial space, the issue of security f tenure and the provision if infrastructure. The most contested space is the community/commercial space at the ground floor where Phanimex is subletting this space to the residents, which is supposed to be controlled by the community leaders. most of the ground floors commercial space is used for housing

During the transect walk, the photographer(Kino) and I moved through all the squatters settlements behind the apartment blocks A-H, gathering Data for mapping, where i experienced the bad odours and the unsightly compilation of Garbage around the which is one of the biggest problems of Borei keila. the lack of a sense of ownership by the community results in their negligence towards garbage disposal. During our interviews we found that about 90 families within the squatters had two wash rooms among them

Furthermore, as garbage is the first thing one observes, the real root cause of this is embedded in the history of the site, given that it was the first land sharing project that was not successful in that 340 former residents  that where promised a flat didn’t get one, and this sparked a protest in early 2012 along with the forced evictions by armed government forces in which people where injured both physically and mentally. so this begs the question, “who is the government protecting?”.

Double standards best describes the transparency with which one can acquire a flat given that  most of the residents interviewed were not originally from Borei Keila and during our presentation to the municipality, the community leaders strongly pushed for the legal documents as a proof of right to get a flat, however they ignored the possibility of renting to squatters which i felt was a form of segregation.

Martin

buddesign1314:

Daily Borei Keila through the BUDDies eyes.

Ecological problem of Borei Keila.

All this rubbish are very dangerous for the local people and neighbourhood. If the problem persists it will lead to a long-term illness and disease of young generation.
This local scale waste problem can become to a city level issue or even bigger.
It’s better to see once than to hear.

Askar Taksym

http://buddesign.tumblr.com/post/86886205163/im-the-only-one-who-volunteered-to-join-the

buddesign:

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“I’m the only one who volunteered to join the group for Borei Keila, other students are all afraid of this case because of the previous horrible things happened in this place”, our Cambodian student partner told me. This is my first impression of my site on the first site-visiting day.

Before…

JING LI

Understanding the Transcience in Transformation
Resistance & Creativity
The greys of Cambodia: Re-thinking and looking the big picture (please)
Analytical Frame work of Borei Keila
Site Experience During the Borei Keila Study In Cambodia

About:

This tumblelog collects some musings on Design in Development from MSc BUDD 2012-2013