A timeless piece of work

Working on renovation projects often comes with many challenges as one needs to tread cautiously to preserve the essence of the building’s past while providing a new character to it by readying the building for reuse.

The refurbishment of a historical shophouse which was in a dilapidated state by Bloom Architecture Co. Ltd is a great example of this.

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The colonial-style shophouse situated on the banks of a river in the sleepy colonial town of Kampot, Cambodia, was in decay due to neglect and the team has added a new element to it by designing a gourmet restaurant on the ground floor and a new residence above while being true to the vernacular architecture style.

The team has retained many of the building’s original features, including the historic façade while converting it into a restaurant and a home.

The design is based on the bygone era Chinese shophouse typology brilliantly incorporates the adaptive reuse method and creates a new contemporary living space which blends seamlessly with the existing heritage envelope blurring the inside-outside boundaries.

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The original arched openings on the façade have been given a facelift with paint and a wooden roof overhang, but without diminishing its old-world charm. Wood from the original building was recycled for construction, including windows and to create custom furniture.

As the building is located on a historically important spot and as it was not easy to alter the interior without causing any damage to the old façade, the design team had to work on-site with the help of autochthone workforce. For this purpose the team hand-picked skilled local artisans to complete the entire project using locally available materials.

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The restaurant on the ground floor has original brick walls with a rustic touch and double-height ceilings with exposed wooden beams. The room is adorned with wooden tables and chairs. Traditional painted decorative tiles are used for restaurant flooring. The kitchen is placed towards the back of the ground floor.

The public and private spaces are divided into two different zones which are divided by an ‘inner courtyard’.

The contemporary interiors are connected to the existing building by this courtyard from which rises a light metal spiral staircase that goes all the way up to the ‘nest’ — an open-air terrace that is well hidden from the public space and provides stunning views of the bay and the surrounding areas.

This courtyard space brings in an abundance of natural light and ventilation into the interiors. The team approached it as a central feature that also hosts an interior landscape.

The private spaces, including living area and bedrooms, are distributed on top floors of the structure.

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Similar to the restaurant area the private spaces also have rustic walls, ceilings with exposed wooden beams, but here the floorings have a wooden finish.

A cosy mezzanine next to the double-height living room completes the residential area. Two bedrooms are also placed towards the back of the first and second floors of the building.

The Bloom Architecture team has restructured the building with the core theme that the present can be anchored in tradition. This idea perfectly erases the boundary between the old and the new thus providing the place with a timeless aura.

Fact File

  • Project: Atelier Kampot
  • Location: Kampot, Cambodia
  • Architects: Bloom Architecture Co. Ltd.
  • Design Team: Antoine Meinnel, Lim Kong
  • Built-up Area: 320 sqm
  • Builder: Rithy Kim / KM Engineering
  • Lighting designer: Charles Henry Fort / Sao Light
  • Artisan workers of timber: Chhour Pheng
  • Customized furniture: Bloom Architecture Co. Ltd.