A competition themed “Khmer Model House Design for “Run Ta Ek eco-village” in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district – which has been allocated for those relocating from the protected Angkor Archaeological Park – is now underway with more than 100 students participating. Prime Ministter Hun Sen has announced plans to turn the now-deserted area into a town.

The competition is organised by the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA), in collaboration with local firm Agent21 Global, and is slated to run until December 21. A workshop on the contest was held by the faculty on November 23 in the presence of Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith.

According to the faculty, the competition is open to third, fourth and fifth year students who are studying architecture and urban planning.

There are three types of model house designs: The first is a house built with a cost of $18,000, the second is a house built with a cost of $25,000 and the last type is a house built with a cost of $30,000, each of which is to be built on a plot of land sized 20m x 30m. The winner of the competition will receive $2,000 in prize money.

Phal Piseth, programme coordinator and labour officer at the faculty, said on the opening day of the workshop that for the project the students can choose to work alone or can work in groups of two or three.

“We have a total of 132 students who are participating that we divided into 53 groups. And in the first phase, we will select only 23 of the 53 teams. We will announce the winner on December 21,” he said.

Ly Chanlaksmy, director of Agent21 Global, said that due to the peace and political stability in Cambodia, the firm is confident in making decisions with long-term vision and planning and that additional reassurance about the Run Ta Ek area of Banteay Srei district was found in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s pledges to develop it into a town.

“[Hun Sen] has already introduced plans for the development of essential infrastructure to develop the area into a civilised and comfortable place. Therefore, Agent21 Global offers the opportunity for 3rd, 4th and 5th year students of the faculty to compete in the model house design work in collaboration with their teachers as judges,” she said.

Agent21 Global will sponsor and cover the costs of building three real houses which will be constructed based on the design models of the winners.

The students are also excited about the project and the prospect of having their designs turned into real houses should they win the competition.

“No matter what the results of my team’s competition is, I am still happy as the university has partnered with Agent21 Global to provide an opportunity for us as architectural students to gradually demonstrate our capabilities,” said Chao Kamley, a third-year student from the faculty, originally from Banteay Meanchey province.

“I want the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning to cooperate with other companies or partners like Agent21 Global to organise competitions like this one. This is a great way to give us the opportunity as students of this faculty to show our abilities and reach new achievements,” she added.