Research for a sustainable Cambodia: the Build4People Project

The Build4People project aims to research and promote the use of sustainable buildings and sustainable urbanization in Phnom Penh. Therefore it focuses on people’s aspirations and their behaviour. The project is fully funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Project Objectives

Our project promotes sustainable buildings and sustainable urban development from a people-centred perspective. We aim at lowered greenhouse gas, pollutant emissions, a better indoor environment, an increase of urban green, a healthier urban climate. Read more.

Project Originality

The trans-disciplinary Build4People project connects scientific-conceptional and analytical aspects. The superior normative bracket is always the urban quality of life. We align people’s needs and aspirations with tools to benefit their living. Read more.

Project Relevance

Cambodia’s traditional architecture took climate conditions into account. Today dynamic economic growth affects the way buildings are built and operated which is not energy-efficient nor tropical climate adapted. Reasons enough for B4P. Read more.

Project Set-up

10 partners across continents join forces to implement 7 work packages: from Behaviour Change, Sustainable Buildings and Neighbourhoods, to Urban Green, Urban Climate to Sustainable Urban Transformation and Coordination. Read more.

Project Approach

The Build4People project considers sustainable, people-centred urban development as a crosscutting task. A genuinely people-centred planning system can neither be expected to “evolve by itself” nor is it feasible through legal regulations only. Our diverse team includes Cambodian and German partners which cooperate on a trans-disciplinary basis. Together they will develop innovative concepts aimed at urban sustainability that are based on scientific and regional expertise. The notion of urban quality of life links the different work packages. The research consortium will carry out field research together with the most renowned local universities. Based on these insights, context-specific interventions will be implemented together with a number of core actors such as the Phnom Penh City Hall and by means of a secondary education demonstration project (Green School). Locally established multipliers such as the European Chamber of Commerce or the Cambodia Architect & Decor fair will support the further dissemination of our approaches.

A strong partnership to deliver research results

Academic Quality
We gathered a team with a proven record of academic excellence, extensive regional expertise and solid project experience.

Transdisciplinary Approach
We draw from expertise and methods from Human Geography, Architecture, Urban Planning, Enviromental Psychology, Civil Engineering, Remote Sensing, Geoinformatics and Climate Research.

Cross-border cooperation
German Universities and private sector actors collaborate with Cambodia partners from the academic arena, the municial setting and responsible ministrial offices.

Work Packages

Work Packages

The work package teams cooperate together, share their findings and develop joint deliverables. Tools and products systematically build upon each other. Learning curves and feedback loops are incorporated into the project design.

Latest News

Stay up-to-date with our latest activities

Submission of Build4People project proposal – RD phase

On 31 July 2020, our Build4People team successfully submitted the project proposal for the upcoming four-year Research and Development phase with the title “Build4People: Enhancing Quality of Life through Sustainable Urban Transformation”. 

Based on our experiences of the ongoing Definition phase and intensive internal discussions, we have been able to refine our approach and to develop a comprehensive research design with a sequence of three research phases: 1) societal and scientific problem-based research, 2) transdisciplinary action research, and finally 3) reflection, refinement and re-integration of created knowledge. 

The graph above gives an overview of the proposed Build4People consortium structure of the RD phase with all research, implementation and dissemination partners.

Monitoring urban green space in Phnom Penh (WP#4) towards a high resolution land cover classification of the urban green fabric

Sneak preview of ongoing research work in WP#4

Spatial analyses of cities require an extensive knowledge of the prevailing land cover. The practice of remote sensing allows researchers to record up-to-date datasets of land cover by carrying out a semi-automated land cover classification. In March 2020, the WP4 local research team from the Royal University of Phnom Penh surveyed and verified more than 600 “ground-truth points” in Phnom Penh using a mobile phone mapping app called “Input APP” which are used as training and validation data for the very high resolution land cover classification of Phnom Penh. The map below shows the first preprint of our very high resolution classification results based on Rapid Eye satellite date provided by Planet.

Satellite classification of Urban Green Space in Phnom Penh 2020. 

WP4 applies a machine learning classification approach using a Support Vector Machine (SVM) algorithm on a satellite image with a 3x3m resolution (Basic Scene of February 2020) provided by PlanetScope and integrated ground truth training data into the classification algorithm to enhance the classification performance. We selected eight separate classes including built-up, sealed surfaces, dense urban classification, low urban classification, bare soil, burned crops/ dry vegetation and shadow.This pre-printed map is a work in progress and underlies further refinement iterations based on the classification results achieved in order to train the model further towards the reality on the ground.

Analysis of the spatial distribution of the “Urban Heat Island” in Phnom Penh

Joint research of WP#4+WP#5: To study urban climate and the influence of building design on thermal comfort weather stations are installed in the city as well as in rural places. This is to evaluate the urban heat island effect. The instrumentation was set up from the Royal University Phnom Penh and has sensors for temperatures, humidity and wind. This gives a solid data base for annual as well as hourly data.

For a layer based urban climate calculation different input data were used. In a first step surface and air temperature as well as wind from weather stations are used. Remote sensing data are need for surface structure and radiation balance.

Jointly with WP#4 (Urban Green) a first spatial analysis of the remotely sensed surface temperature in Phnom Penh was carried out in 2020 using the Land surface products of Landsat 8 and Sentinel. Both product measure the temperature of the surface of the Earth in Kelvin (K). Land surface Temperature is an important parameter in many energy balance and hydrologic modeling studies and surface Temperature data is also useful for monitoring urban vegetation and urban heat islands. 

Fig 1: ESA Sentinel 3, Land surface temperature, SLSTR product, on the 20.01.2020.
Fig 2: Landsat 8, Landsat Provisional Surface, Temperature product, on the 20.01.2020

Virtual Workshop “Green Economy in Practice”

From 2nd to 5th June 2020, the virtual workshop “Green Economy in Practice” was carried out by the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg, on behalf of the EU-funded Erasmus+ project EGEA ”Enhancing Green Economy in 3 countries of Asia”. 

The main goal of the EGEA project is to promote “green” economy and sustainable behaviour at all levels of education in three countries of Asia (Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal and India) endorsing the role of Higher Education Institutions as catalysts of change. 

The Build4People representatives of WP1 “Behaviour Change” Anke Blöbaum and Annalena Becker took part in the workshop and seized the opportunity to discuss the ongoing Build4People activities in Cambodia with researchers and practitioners of the EGEA project from different European and Asian universities and institutions.

Anke Blöbaum and Annalena Becker hosted the session “Build4People – Researching and promoting sustainable buildings and sustainable urban development in Cambodia from a people-centred perspective” and presented the research of the different disciplines within the Build4People project as well as the ongoing activities concerning the curriculum development at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Within the session, questions were discussed extensively concerning the Cambodian context of the research and implementation approach. Questions according to the infrastructural and socio-political circumstances such as the energy system of renewable energies in Cambodia and the housing stock of sustainable buildings in Phnom Penh were compared to the experiences with the cooperating countries of the EGEA project.

Fruitful exchange concerning the process of approving and accrediting the curriculum program with the Cambodian universities happened, bringing instructive insights from their experiences in the three Asian countries. The content of the curricula that are planned by the different work packages of the Build4People project were reviewed and enriched by discussing environmental topics that are considered within the EGEA project’s curriculum activities.

The participants benefited a lot from the valuable discussions within the different sessions of the workshop enabling them to rethink and reflect on the work experiences and the cultural sensitivity of both projects’ approaches.