Architecture
Smiling Gecko - House of Culture and Music

«regeneration of cultural roots»

During the time of the Khmer Rouge regime, music and culture were banned and hence almost completely disappeared in Cambodia. This resulted in a loss of the supporting role of traditional music and cultural performances in the life of the local population.
Cultural regeneration, more than ever, plays an essential role in Cambodia’s recovery. It enables the transmission of culture and the rebuilding of bridges between generations and individuals. Affected are in particular today’s generation of children and young adults that grow up without traditional and cultural expressions, as their parents are not able to transmit these.

«music creates unity and connectedness»

In the connecting nature of music we see the possibility to overcome conflict, unite people and bring sunken memories back to life. Music brings people together all over the world and across political, cultural and religious boundaries, as it is a language that everyone understands – a universal language that reaches not only the mind but also the heart. Art, culture and music create identity, a feeling of community and connection; ultimately strengthening trust in each other.

In the context of creative education, the school at the heart of the Smart Village project not only has the duty to transmit and teach technical skills, such as mathematics, reading and writing, but also cultural subjects, such as music and arts. The aim is to enable students to find their roots in Cambodian culture as well as to build bridges to the Western influences, allowing to find a good balance.

For this reason, Smiling Gecko and atelier oï extend their collaboration and continue to join forces for an architectural project with a greater cause: the implementation of a “House of Culture and Music”.
The infrastructure will facilitate teaching and practice of traditional and modern music, dance and theatre and will include a professional recording studio for music and movies as well as an amphitheater for about 100 visitors. It will hence complement the activities of the educational campus and transform it into an important center of cultural development and exchange for students and artists.
On the path to our long-term, common ambition – the “University of Applied Sciences” – the “House of Culture and Music” is an important milestone, ensuring the tertiary level education will also be able to cover cultural subjects.

Together with the renowned Swiss musician “Seven”, Smiling Gecko launched the initiative «A container full of music», aiming to collect used music instruments in all of Switzerland and to give them a second life in Cambodia. On the 9th of October 2021 the container will be shipped off packed with instruments, arriving in Cambodia around Christmas. In addition to Seven, also Viola Tami, Dani Felber and Musik Hug AG are important supporters of the initiative.
In this context, our aim is to start with the preparational work for the construction of the “House of Culture and Music” around January 2022.

«circular impact buildings in a living bamboo forest»

Hannes Schmid’s aim is to implement a common architectural concept across the upcoming Middle School, the “House of Culture and Music” as well as the “University of Applied Sciences“. The early conceptual stage of the “University of Applied Sciences” (presented in June 2021) has hence further evolved in light of the new scope of application.
Inspired by the effect and shape of a gong – an instrument with a long tradition in Cambodia – “circular impact buildings” will be placed in forest glades across a large bamboo forest. The round buildings will radiate and shine from inside to outside and from outside to inside – like sound waves across borders. The modular system of the circular layout plan will allow flexibility for different space requirements.

Bamboo will be the main construction material for the buildings and the dynamic aspect of the living and growing plants remains a crucial part of the architecture.
Unique compilations of brick walls will furthermore give the possibility to place walls with either a more closed or a more see-through and ventilated atmosphere.
A well thought-out roof system and elevation placement of the different buildings has the aim to ensure rain water flows and can be collected in a lake near by, to water the bamboo forest in dry seasons.
The first forest glade will be dedicated to create the “House of Culture and Music” and the concept will further grow from there, incorporating learnings from this first realization. An inspiring “path of sound” will lead through the bamboo forest and to this first building, as the journey is quite often the goal.

This project will continue to accompany us in the coming months and years and will require all of our support to be realized. We will be happy to keep you updated on the further developments and look forward to hearing from you if you see any possibility to support this great ambition.

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