Estudio Cavernas, Koh Kong Mangrove Lodging (Cambodia)
Photos: Denis Amirtharaj
Based in Mae Sot (Thailand), Estudio Cavernas – founded by the Cuevas Durán brothers from Spain, Juan (1984) and Yago (1989) – built these shelters amid mangrove forests in the southwestern Cambodian province of Koh Kong. Drawing inspiration from traditional piling techniques used in surrounding floating villages, the thatch lodges were raised with the close collaboration of fishermen and local construction workers. There was an active exchange of know-how on flexible and durable materials available (such as bamboo and beter nut palm), and on low-impact building techniques, all with a view to respecting the environmental and social context.
Families of the Khmer ethnic group – predominant in Cambodia – use A-shaped huts to spend the day in, eating there and cooking with electric rice steamers. At night these huts – elevated to deal with the changing tides – become lodgings partly covered with canopies. At the center of the complex stands the main pavilion, a community gathering place. It is a self-supporting bamboo structure crowned with a roof made of sugar cane. Prior to construction, to preserve and protect the bamboo it was given a saltwater immersion treatment, then left to dry under the sun for two weeks.
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