I want to move to ... Chamkar Morn Village

Wed, 12 November 2008
Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Photo by:
Melanie Brew

This Chamkar Morn villa can be yours to rent or buy.

What's going for it?

Chamkar Morn Village is one of the many urban compounds that have sprung up in Phnom Penh over the past few years. Developed in 2004, it's just a stone's throw away from Boeung Keng Kang and, although on a busy street, the compound itself feels distant from the commotion of one of the city's busiest suburbs. Concrete streets with speed bumps and young but growing foliage transform this previously undeveloped roadside neighbourhood into a suburban ideal. The houses are modern with contemporary amenities, and there is 24-hour security to keep the riff-raff out.

What's the catch?

Its strength could also be a weakness for some. While close to Boeung Keng Kang, a lack of things to do inside the gates can make the residential compound feel isolated. It could even become a rather claustrophobic habitat for some. The houses are also close together, meaning kids and families play in the streets rather than in their own yards. The houses themselves are also a bit on the Asian-garish side with metal grates, tinted blue windows and heavily lacquered built-in wooden furniture and ornamentation.
Getting there, and away

Traffic in Phnom Penh is not known for its efficiency. Depending on the time of day, what should be a 10-minute commute could take up to 30 minutes or more, especially on four wheels. On the other hand, this only applies during peak traffic hours between, say, 7am to 8am and from 4:30pm to about 6pm. The same applies almost everywhere in the city, so it shouldn't count against the neighbourhood.
Schools

The International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP), iCan British International School, Zaman International School and Home of English are the main schools in the area. ISPP is accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS), and teaches an international baccalaureate curriculum. iCAN teaches an adapted version of the National Curriculum for England and Wales. Zaman International School teaches a curriculum combining British and American curriculums and the National Curriculum of Cambodia. Home of English has a homeschool program designed for families who are abroad.

Out of the house

With the exception of a few Cambodian nightclubs, there is not a lot to do directly in the area. The closest supermarket is Lucky Supermarket on Sihanouk Boulevard, and the closest market is the Russian Market. Without driving there is little happening, but it is close to the Japanese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian embassies.
On the market

There are four basic types of properties available for rent. Deluxe villas rent for between US$3,000 and $4,500 a month and have four to six bedrooms on a block measuring 20 metres by 25 metres. Standard villas rent for about $1,000 less, have four bedrooms and are on a 14.5 metre by 20 metre lot. Single villas also come with four bedrooms, but they are smaller and are situated on a 14-metre-by-16 metre or 14-metre-by-18-metre lot. They rent for $1,500 per month. Flats come in three or four bedroom options on a six metre by 20 metre plot and rent for between $800 and $1,000. Undeveloped land is also available for between $1,700 and $2,000 per square metre.
Rent or buy

Located in Chamkar Morn Village, this new standard villa has hardwood floors, modern amenities and parking for two vehicles. It rents for $2,500 a month or will sell for $540,000. The house measures 11 metres by 13 metres on a 14 metre by 20 metre plot. It has four bedrooms and five bathrooms. Po Eavkong 012 358 958 Read Original text


At Home With: Him Sivon, singer

Wed, 12 November 2008
Him-Savoran.jpg

Him-Savoran.jpg

My favourite part of my home

My favorite part of my home is my gazebo and garden. It makes me feel very relaxed to sit with my husband and my children in the gazebo. I like my bedroom too because it is finished in wood and looks very beautiful.

The best way to relax at home

I relax at home by sewing clothes, and I am also having singing lessons. I like to spend time cooking in the kitchen and I sometimes watch TV. When I feel tired I like to go and relax in my gazebo, although I often end up talking with my husband about my business.

When I entertain guests

I like to have a party every weekend to entertain my friends and guests. We drink some wine and eat nice food. I like to show them around my home, such as the living room and the bedroom, and take them walking around my garden. We listen to music, and sometimes watch TV.

My decorating style

In my home, I have decorations in the Khmer style only as I don't like the Western style of decorating. The Khmer style is much simpler and I don't like my home to be too cluttered with decorations. I have many pictures on the walls of the countryside, Angkor Wat and my family. And I also like to decorate with Khmer musical instruments. My husband and I designed the look of our home.

Things I would change

The only thing I would change is my curtains. In fact, I like to change them and wash them often as I want my home to always be clean, beautiful and happy. Even if I am busy I take the time to clean my home. I am very happy living here as I built this home and I don't want to move to another place.

Popular Cambodian singer Him Sivon was born in Ba hnom district, Prey Veng province, 38 years ago. She has been a professional singer since 1987, and is married with two children; a boy and a girl. She lives in a Khmer style villa in Phnom Penh, which she built between 2001 and 2002. Read Original text


Design: Blending the old with the now to design the future

Wed, 12 November 2008
8-Central-Market12.jpg

8-Central-Market12.jpg

DesignModern communication can help Cambodia mix traditional design themes with modern tropical elements to create something new

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

Phsar Thom Thmei is one of the country's best examples of Art Deco's geometric shapes.

Art Nouveau and Art Deco are two highly recognizable themes in Cambodian architecture and interior design. As Cambodia ushers in a new era, these two design concepts can be intertwined with modern tropical design styles to create something entirely new and fresh.

Both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles originated in Europe during the period that its nations were colonizing the globe. Because of this, both styles are prevalent throughout the developing world.

Cambodia is no exception and many examples of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture can be found in Phnom Penh and around the rest of the country.

Out of France

At the turn of the sio century a new generation of artists came together in France and created a style that was contemporary and meaningful for an era born in the industrial revolution and marked by the emergence of a modern lifestyle.

The Art Nouveau movement sought to make art a part of everyday life. Everything from architecture to clothes, jewelry and furniture was affected by the new style. This period was highly stylized and ornamental, concentrated around earth themes and mythical motifs.

For example, many of the older colonial buildings along Phnom Penh's Norodom Boulevard have distinct Art Nouveau elements that can even be seen in the elaborate fences surrounding them.

War ushers in Art Deco period

The onslaught of World War I brought an abrupt end to the Art Nouveau movement. What followed when peace returned was a movement based less on aesthetics and more on function and design.

Design trends and fashions are now as equally accessible in New York and Paris as they are in Buenos Aires or Phnom Penh.

The Art Deco period was in many ways a reaction to the technology of the time. Aviation, electric lighting, radio and skyscrapers all had an effect on the movement.
Geometric shapes were central to the style. In Phnom Penh, perhaps the best example of these shapes can be seen in Phsar Thom Thmei, or central market, which was built in the shape of a dome, branching out into various arms of stalls.

Although built after the original movement, in 1958 following the country's independence from France, Independence Monument also has many Art Deco characteristics.

Modernising through technology

Today, technology has a massive influence on the way we live. Information that once took weeks to communicate can now be sent with the push of a button. Design trends and fashions are now as equally accessible in New York and Paris as they are in Buenos Aires or Phnom Penh.

Because of this, tropical regions are now helping shape some of the major design trends.

Contemporary tropical designs have moved away from tiki torches and replicas of tribal knick-knacks to something more elegant and sophisticated in style. Shades of the sea and beach evoke tropical emotions more cleverly than grass awnings and murals of sunsets, and the use of wood and stone brings a sense of the outside into the home.

Interweaving ideas

There are many ways to blend the different elements of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and contemporary tropical styles. Ornate lighting fixtures and lamps, chic rattan furniture designed with Art Deco concepts of function and arrangements of bamboo in oversized pots are three distinct interior design ideas that when brought together create something new and fresh.

The idea of interweaving these styles can be seen in many architectural spaces in Cambodia. The new Siem Reap airport, Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh and the showroom in Phnom Penh interior design store Beyond Interiors all combine elements of the past with contemporary twists invoking regional styles.

The turn of the millennium has brought a change in design ideas similar to the changes the Art Nouveau movement brought more than 100 years ago. As new technologies become common in Cambodia, a sense of a shifting lifestyle is growing.

Although interior design options are still limited here, every month sees a growing availability of new materials and objects as offshore designers and artists take an increased interest in what was once the Pearl of the Orient.

Decorating and designing with a sense of the past, a spin on the present and openness toward the future has circled us back around to periods already visited yet also launched us forward. Read Original text


New office offers discount

Wed, 12 November 2008
Content image - Phnom Penh Post

An office building under construction on Phnom Penh's Monivong

Boulevard  is offering tenants an early-bird discount to sign on ahead

of completion

Photo by:

Image Supplied

An artistic rendering of the VTRUST Office Center currently under construction on Monivong Boulevard.

PRIME NUMBERS

VTRUST Office Center Monivong

  • Building type Office/commercial
  • Address 705-707 Monivong Boulevard Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang III Chamkamon District, Phnom Penh
  • Property manager: VTRUST Property
  • Architect: Five-Arc Architecture Co
  • Sales manager Opus
  • Floors 8 plus rooftop
  • Floor Space 1080 square metres
  • Usable Area 987 square metres per floor
  • Floor Usage
    • Ground floor street level: Parking
    • Ground floor upper: Reception
    • First floor: Park Cafe and fitness center
    • Floors 2-7: Offices
    • Rooftop: Terrace and common areas
  • Access 4 elevators, staircase, emergency external stairs
  • Scheduled opening First quarter 2009
  • Lease terms Three year minimum

Discounted rentals are available in an eight-storey office building currently under construction on Phnom Penh's Monivong Boulevard for organizations willing to take over an entire floor and sign on before construction is complete.

Phillip Butler, managing director of Opus, which is managing sales for property management company VTRUST Property, said he was targeting embassies, aid organisations, NGOs and multinational companies with the scale to take over one or more floors. "We are not marketing small units," he told Prime Location.

Construction began on the VTRUST Office Center Monivong building in late 2006 and the building is slated to top out in the first quarter of 2009. The discounted rate comes on the condition the tenants meet the costs of partitioning and decorating their office spaces. They will be free to design the spaces according to their needs.

"We are offering options now that won't be there when it is complete," Butler said. "We have a lot of interested parties."

The asking rental once the building is fully outfitted will be US$20 per square metre per month, which works out to $19,740 for the 987 square metres of usable space on each floor.

Businesses willing to sign a lease of at least three years and meet outfitting costs can sign up for just $13,500 a month, or around $13.70 a square metre. Those that require the office space to be delivered in a more ready-to-occupy state can snap up the space for just $16,500 a month provided they are willing to take on responsibility for the final decorative touches.

Easy access

The new office is in a prime location on Monivong Boulevard between Mao Tse Toung Boulevard and Street 360, in the center of Phnom Penh's dispersed business and aid organization district.

"It doesn't get traffic jams like other places but its close to the main routes," Butler said.

Opus is marketing the property on behalf of Cambodian property management company VTRUST Property.

Managing director Kuy Vat said the property was being built by a local construction company under the supervision of the land's owner, whose name was given only as Mr Serei.

It was designed by Khuy Py of local arcitecture group Five-Arc Architecture Co. It will have six floors of office space, a Park Cafe restaurant and fitness center on the first floor, a business centre in the lobby and a rooftop terrace and bar. All public areas will have free wifi.

"It is going to be as a good a standard as is being offered anywhere in Phnom Penh," Kuy Vat said.

However, construction experts spoken to by Prime Location have cast doubt over whether the building will be delivered on time given progress to date and the slow pace of construction in Cambodia.

One, who asked not to be named, said a general rule of thumb is that once a building's shell is complete, at least one month needs to be set aside per floor for outfitting. The building was not even close to that stage, he said.

A VTRUST representative said the pace of construction was managed by the landlord, but that the company could step in with its own construction team if necessary. The landlord, Mr Serei, could not be reached for comment.

VTRUST also owns and operates the fledgling Park Cafe restaurant chain, operates three serviced apartment buildings in Phnom Penh and manages the VTRUST Office Center in the Parkway Square Building on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard.

Kuy Vat said the company would look to take over management of other office buildings in Phnom Penh in the future, but as yet had no concrete plans. "We're taking it one-by-one," he said. Read Original text


On the market

Wed, 12 November 2008

Rural getaway

This 50 hectare rural block near

National Road 3 is 49 kilometres from Kampot town, 61 from

Sihanoukville and just three kilometres from the ocean. It is available

as a block or in sections of at least 10 hectares. Owner has hard title

and is asking $2 per square metre. Property has access to a man-made

irrigation canal 200 metres away. It is currently under rice

cultivation but homebuilders are welcome. Rithy Thul, ProCambodia, 015

691 008

Top dollar rental

Newly renovated five bedroom and six bathroom villa in BKK for rent.

Equipped with air conditioning. Has a large balcony on the second

floor, ideal for outside entertaining. Kitchen comes with oven and

stove. Khmer-style interiors but landlord open to some alterations.

Available from November 22. Far from cheap but probably worth it for

the right renters. Rithy Thul, ProCambodia, 015 691 008

Central shopfront
This five bedroom, four bathroom two-storey Chinese shopfront is

available for rent in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang I district, just

behind Lucky market. The balcony comes jungle style. Suitable for an

office space, home or combination of both. The house is eight by 13

metres and has enough space out front to park two cars. Asking price is

$1,100 per month, so Prime Location suggests haggling hard. 011 800 548


Action urged on builder deaths

Wed, 5 November 2008
Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

Builders' federation president Sok Sovandeith says too many construction workers are dying on the job.

THE president of the Cambodia National Federation of Building and Wood Workers has called on the government to enforce workplace safety laws to stem an unacceptably high rate of deaths and injuries among construction workers.

No official figures are available, but Sok Sovandeith said at least one construction worker died every day in the Kingdom and many others were injured. "We don't know the exact figures because the construction companies hide them," he said.

He blamed the lax attitude of both the government and construction companies towards workplace safety.

"Construction companies do not provide a good working environment and safety equipment like boots, hard helmets, gloves and safety harnesses," he said.

Im Chamrong, director general of the Department of Construction at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, acknowledged worker protections were necessary, but said it was a matter for the construction sector and the wider government, not his ministry.

"Nowadays we do not have any law to protect construction workers, but hopefully in the future the government will require construction companies to buy insurance to protect them," he said.

"If construction companies, workers and the government agree to work together, I think that we can push through a law to protect construction workers as soon as possible."

But Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said the existing labour law already covered all workers in Cambodia, including those in the construction sector. New legislation was not needed, he said.

Under Article 230 of the Kingdom's Labour Law of 1997, employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace and are liable for all work-related accidents that occur. Managers may be liable for workers' compensation in the event of injury or incapacitation. However, a ministerial order, or prakas, to enforce the workplace safety provision has not yet been issued.

At least one construction worker dies every day in the Kingdom...

Under the law, enforcement would be the responsibility of the Labour Inspection Department of the Labour Ministry, not the Construction Ministry.
Im Chamrong blamed workers rather than construction companies for the lack of safety equipment on the job. "This is the traditional Khmer way of working," he said. "They do not have to use any construction equipment and I can say that they do not want to use equipment."

He added that construction companies should fine workers that do not use safety equipment.

‘Govt must take lead'

Sok Sovandeith said construction companies had proven they were uninterested in protecting workers. The government needed to take the lead on enforcement of worker safety rather than leaving it to the sector, he said.

"[The construction companies] are not interested in working conditions," he said. "I try to go down to construction sites to help construction workers by training them how to work safely but many companies do not allow me to go into the construction site."

Ouk Pov, a construction worker who declined to name the company he worked for in Phnom Penh, said that in five years on the job he had never been provided with safety equipment. "I tried to work hard every day," he said. "I was forced to work in dangerous conditions, but I never thought too much about it because I need money to support my family."

The sector employs between 45,000 and 50,000 construction workers like Ouk Pov, according to Lao Tip Seiha, director of the construction department. Unskilled workers receive US$4 per day in wages, skilled workers $150 to $250 per month and architects and engineers $600 to $1,200 per month.

A step in the right direction

Sok Sovandeith acknowledged that the recent establishment of an employer-funded workplace insurance scheme to cover accidents was a step in the right direction, but that accidents needed to be prevented rather than simply compensated.

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF ) fund, which was established last month,  requires contributions from employers equal to 0.8 percent of each employee's salary. However, the fund's head, Ouk Samvuthyea, said just four construction companies from Phnom Penh had so far contributed to the fund.

The fund will pay for the medical treatment of injured workers and daily wages during treatment. Workers who sustain permanent injuries that prevent them from returning to work will receive premium payments for life, while families of workers will receive a subsidy from the NSSF in the event of death. Read Original text