visiting doctors housing

a project by ingvartsen

Rural malaria research clinics often struggle to maintain long term staff due to their location in geographically isolated, low-income regions and lack of adequate accommodation on site. Hospital staff may live within the clinic itself, in wards converted into bedrooms, or stay long term in guesthouses. This can lead to a feeling of social isolation and being unable to escape from work. Many clinics are therefore susceptible to a high employee turnover as hospital staff leave to seek other opportunities closer to the city.

The Rural Doctor’s Housing project offers comfortable long term accommodation for both hospital staff and visiting medical researchers in Siem Pang village, Cambodia.

Located on the banks of the Tonle Sekong river, the housing complex celebrates the unique opportunities which rural living can offer, such as solace from a hectic modern urban life, proximity to nature and a strong local community. The project will be undertaken in two phases—firstly the construction of a common house with adjoining residence (completed late 2019), followed by an additional three future homes.

The site plan includes an access route for patients arriving by boat to the hospital as many of the surrounding villages are connected only by the river. Care was taken when laying out the buildings and elevated walkways so that no mature trees had to be felled for the construction of the project. It is hoped that once the site becomes occupied, residents will make use of the vegetated buffer zone between the homes and the access road as a kitchen garden.

The Rural Doctor’s Housing project is constructed from timber sourced from Siem Pang village and is built by local carpenters. Architectural inspiration was drawn from a historical exploration of neighbouring buildings and vernacular homes in Siem Pang village, with a focus on traditional timber construction detailing.

The height of the buildings above ground level (over 2.5m at certain points) was transcribed from a survey of the oldest buildings on the Tonle Sekong riverbank. This appreciation of the Cambodian vernacular had unexpected benefits—in September 2019, during the construction of the first phase of the project, the river level rose by 12m. Despite many local buildings being severely flooded, the Rural Doctor’s Housing project survived due the height of the pillar foundations.

Each 41m2 home includes a small kitchen, dining room, en suite, personal workspace and a private balcony. Orientation, shading and natural materials are among a range of passive design strategies used in the project to ensure inside spaces are comfortable and low maintenance in the hot, humid climate. All openings have been designed specifically to screen for mosquitos and to allow for maximum cross-ventilation, eliminating the need for air conditioning. Openable louvred shutters provide privacy whilst maintaining natural light and ventilation indoors.

The homes are connected to a 58m2 common house via a series of timber pedestrian bridges, designed to facilitate chance encounters between residents, while respecting privacy. With a communal eating area, shared balcony and private guest room, the common house offers a semi-private space for the hospital staff to socialise, relax together and build strong connections outside of the hospital environment. The angled balconies located on the western façade catch the morning sun and offer residents the chance to relax with stunning views of the Tonle Sekong river.

project start date: 04.2018

phase one completion date: 02.2020

the doctors houses are linked by elevated walkways which also protect from flooding

the project will be constructed in 2 phases, the first completing in 2020

the houses have west facing balconies which look over the tonle kong river

in the evening residents can relax on either the private or communal balconies

stilts protected the project from severe flooding when the river rose 12m in 2019

the houses have screened windows and doors to aid cross ventilation

completed private house

render showing an overview of the project

en / dk

Copenhagen