Alternative Housing and Urban Planning Volunteer

Impact: 8
Support: 8
Fun: 8
Value: 9
Safety: 9

Alternative Housing and Urban Planning Volunteer

STT work in a variety of sectors which help support and protect the poorest communities in and around Phnom Penh, providing advice on human rights issues, architectural solutions, detailed mapping and land rights documentation as well as acting as a voice for these otherwise unheard communities.

Although my role within STT was to predominantly produce architectural solutions that address the needs of these communities my role also encompassed the land mapping process and working alongside the human rights team to protect those who are vulnerable and in need.

My role gave me with the opportunity to understand the Cambodian culture and architectural process within it.

Meeting with the communities and understanding the wider issues concerning the families within them provided me with a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and allowed me to experience a social side of architecture which I had not previously been involved in. Enabling families to have a voice and hope of a better future has been incredibly rewarding.

I handled a number of projects in varying scales, from individual dwellings to more recently the Chrang Chamres project which is situated on a land area of 6.5 acres and proposes to provide 13,000 new homes and a variety of commercial opportunities for the communities living within the development. My drawings for this project were presented to the local communities, individual residents, directors of NGO's and to donors to make these a built reality in the near future.

Another project I was heavily involved in since my time at STT has been the White Building - a complex and political project concerning the threatened displacement of some 2,500 residents. As well as providing architectural documentation I worked with the human rights team and fellow NGO's in providing feasible solutions to help save the building and secure the tenure for the residents of the building.

As well as the fellow NGO's on this project I worked hand in hand with the residents and village chiefs to ensure any proposals have the full support and approval from all key stakeholders in order to provide a attainable vision of the future in these uncertain times.

My time at STT has been extremely insightful - the roles undertaken, the responsibilities, the respect and the appreciation received from both the communities and my colleagues has been very fulfilling. Working in a third world environment has exposed me to the challenges, constraints and stark realities of life for many people which I hadn't fully appreciated. This first hand experience took me beyond my initial understanding of the Cambodian people and exposed me to new ways of thinking in a new and interesting side of architecture which I believe has helped my professional develop and progression.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would