Entrepreneur building up Cambodia with ‘Lego-like’ bricks
PHNOM PENH: Kongngy Hav is no engineer. He is no construction expert, nor a designer.
Yet the young Cambodian is trying to indelibly shape the country’s housing sector.
Amid Cambodia’s looming housing crisis, Kongngy, 31, is becoming a force for social change through a simple idea that is slowly finding foundations. He has developed “My Dream Home”, a program designed to provide quality, affordable green housing to those who cannot afford to buy traditional housing.
It utilises an interlocking brick system, which resembles Lego, designed to provide sturdy construction and that can be put together by people without building skills.
Through the initiative, an average small two-storied home can be built for between US$4,000 and US$6,000, including design and construction help. Kongngy says such a dwelling would take two low-skilled people just a couple of months to build. He says that is 20-40 per cent cheaper than traditional housing, less labour intensive and better for the environment, with consideration about location, safety and access to utilities and clean water.
“It’s not a place to stay but a place to live that will be comfortable for life,”
The bricks, mostly made from soil and sand, are also aesthetic for modern building and do not harm the environment when they are made, Kongngy explains.
Cheap housing is in high demand in Phnom Penh and that need is only going to grow more pressing. Despite some efforts by other non-government organisations the “chronic shortage”, as Kongngy describes it, remains an imposing challenge.
The government estimates that 1.1 million new homes will be needed by 2030, on top of the housing shortage that exists now. Most of these dwellings will be for low-income families, as people flock for opportunities in the capital.