Research for Better Quality of Urban Life: the Build4People Project

The Build4People project aims to research and promote the use of sustainable buildings and sustainable urbanization through re-configuring the urban transformation pathway of Phnom Penh. Thereby, it focuses on people’s aspirations and their behaviour. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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 integrating link of our scientific-conceptional, analytical and normative dimension is the urban quality of life, which we consider to be the general foundation for our people-driven approach. 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 most important of all the Phnom Penh Capital Hall and the developer company Peng Huoth Group. Locally established multipliers such as the European Chamber of Commerce or the Center for Khmer Studies will support the 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.

Latest News

Stay up-to-date with our latest activities

Build4People Sustainable Building Incubator: Interviews with participants

Our project partner, the Impact Hub Phnom Penh, has created a new video clip which shows interviews with the participants, young aspiring entrepreneurs, of the amazing Build4People Sustainable Building Incubator. 

See their transformative experiences as they share insights, challenges, and key lessons from the 4-month entrepreneurial program focusing on making our buildings more sustainable and liveable. 

Learn more about the program:







Publication of a video clip documenting the Build4People Sustainable Building Arena 2023 at Raintree Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 20 April 2023

This clip shows some impressions from the 2nd Build4PeopleSustainable Building Arena (SBA) which took place at Impact Raintree, Penh on 20 April 2023. 

Around 50 frontrunners in the field sustainable building collaborated in an inspiring participatory workshop prepared by Ravi Jayaweera, Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation” with support from Mélanie Mossard from Impact Hub Phnom Penh. 

#Build4People #BMBF_SUREregions

Open Access Publication on Phnom Penh’s building system and potential transition pathways

Thanks to a grant from the University of Hamburg Open Access Fund, a recent detailed analysis on Phnom Penh’s building system written by Ravi Jayaweera of the Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation” as lead author, has been published as open access publication at the renowned journal Geoforum (impact factor: 3.926)

The paper “Houses of cards and concrete: (In)stability configurations and seeds of destabilization of Phnom Penh’s building regime” explores the factors contributing to the (in)stability of the building sector in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The study analyses multiple dimensions of (in)stability configurations, namely economic, socio-cultural, and political-institutional, and identifies sources of destabilization. The results suggest that the building regime in Phnom Penh has an ambiguous (in)stability configuration, with tensions primarily within the socio-cultural and economic dimensions, and predominantly stabilizing effects from the political-institutional dimension. It further emphasizes the importance of identifying (in)stability configurations and the seeds of destabilization for developing effective transition governance strategies towards sustainable urban development. In this way our research contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges and tensions associated with sustainable urban development in the Global South, particularly in countries with high urban growth and construction activities. Finally, this basic understanding is regarded as essential to be able to destabilize and finally to reconfigure the existing building system to achieve transformative change as key aim of the Build4People project.

Figure: (In)stability configuration Framework (own illustration, building on Geels, 2002, Fastenrath and Braun, 2018).

Full citation: Jayaweera, R., Rohracher, H., Becker, A., Waibel, M., (2023). Houses of cards and concrete: (In)stability configurations and seeds of destabilisation of Phnom Penh’s building regimeGeoforum, 141 (2023) 103744. ISSN 0016-7185,

Build4People Sustainable Building Arena 2023 at Raintree Cambodia, Phnom Penh

On 20 April 2023, the second Build4People Sustainable Building Arena took place at Raintree Cambodia.

Around 50 frontrunners in the field sustainable building collaborated in an inspiring participatory workshop prepared by Ravi Jayaweera, Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation” with support from Melanie Mossard from Impact Hub Phnom Penh. 

Building on the results of the first Sustainable Building Arena in March 2022, the participating sustainability innovators and stakeholders from the building sector translated their visions for a sustainable development of Phnom Penh into concrete project ideas and supportive alliances.

Thanks for the very strong engagement of all participants who contributed to the great success of this event.

Please find some visual impressions below.