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

Presentation of the Build4People Ecocity Transition Lab at the 5th SPACE International Conference on City Planning and Urban Design

On 21 September 2023, the B4P WP#3 “Sustainable Neighbourhoods” Leader Mr. Messerschmidt and the WP#3 Research Associate Nuria Roig, presented about the Build4People Ecocity Transition Lab (ECTL) Methodology at the 5th SPACE International Conference on City Planning and Urban Design. This conference is widely recognized to be an ideal platform for recent advances and research results regarding participatory approaches and citizen engagement in urban planning and decision-making.

The Build4People Ecocity Transition Lab, as a participatory transdisciplinary tool, aims to accompany the horizontal discussion among the different stakeholders that play a role in urban transformation. The objective is to find a common understanding of the current urban challenges, to unlock potentials, to develop a shared vision for the city and to look for delivery mechanisms on how to make it happen under the given local circumstances.

As for now, there has been three editions of the ECTL, the first one during the Definition phase (2019-2021), in cooperation with Phnom Penh City Hall, the second and third during the current Research and Development phase (2021-2025), with one further lab still to be implemented in 2024.

The understanding gained after the ECTL events has been summarised in the set of strategies for sustainable neighbourhood development which will be the base to jointly develop the final integrative product of the project, the so called B4P TOOLBOX.

First PhD defense within Build4People project at Hamburg University: “Urban Sustainability Transitions in the Global South: Navigating (in)stabilities for Transformative Change”

On 11 September 2023, Ravi Jayaweera, research associate of the Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation” successfully defended his PhD thesis “Urban Sustainability Transitions in the Global South: Navigating (in)stabilities for Transformative Change” at Hamburg University, Germany. 

His thesis was supervised by Dr. Michael Waibel and Prof. Dr. Martina Neuburger from the Department of Geography at Hamburg University. Prof. Dr. Harald Rohracher, Linköping University, Sweden, served as panel chair of the PhD committee at SICSS graduate school, School of Integrated Climate System Sciences, at Hamburg University.

The whole Build4People project team would like to express its sincere congratulations to Dr. Ravi Jayaweera for this major milestone of his academic career. 

After more than four years as research associate within the Build4People team Ravi has left the project end of August 2023 and we all wish him the very best for this future.


Publication of online edition of Build4People Exhibition 2023: Green Buildings and Sustainable Neighbourhoods: Good Practice Examples from Asia

The whole Build4People team is very happy about the publication of the electronic edition of the Build4People Exhibition 2023: Green Buildings and Sustainable Neighbourhoods – Good Practice Examples from Asia, in English language.

The curator of this touring exhibition is Build4PeopleWork Package “Sustainable Neighbourhoods” represented by EMP: Eble Messerschmidt Partner, Architects and Urban Designers PartGmbB, based in Tübingen, Germany.

At the moment, all of the exhibition posters are in the process of getting translated into Khmer language to reach out to a even wider public. The Build4People Exhibition 2023 in Khmer language exhibition will firstly be shown at the Build4People Status Conference at The Canopy, Raintree Phnom Penh, on 04 October 2023.

#build4people #BMBF_SUREregions

Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation” Presentation at the Transformations Community Conference 2023 in Sydney

Based on ongoing empirical research, Ravi Jayaweera, Research Associate of Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation”, Hamburg University, shared findings on the empowerment of change agents and the institutionalisation of transformative partnerships in sustainability transition processes in the Global South in the context of the Transformations Conference 2023 – Transformative Partnerships for a Better World in Sydney on 13 July 2023.

The presented study jointly prepared with Build4People Work Package “Sustainable Urban Transformation” Leader Dr Michael Waibel introduced an empowerment-in-transitions framework to assess the (dis)empowering effects of transition interventions across motivational, resource and social capital dimensions. 

Applying the framework to an ongoing urban transition intervention in Cambodia, Phnom Penh, positive short-term empowerment effects in terms of common aspirations, potential for joint action, trust and networks were noted. These however need to be institutionalised and reproduced in the mid- to long-term in order to initiate transformative change. This presents a challenge for independently implemented interventions that have to navigate between the creation of co-creative and “uncaptured” safe spaces and the anchoring at existing institutions.

The conference was held at three locations across the Globe with hubs in Sydney, Prague and Portland. It was the sixth conference of the Transformations Community, a global network of scholars and practitioners dedicated to facilitating sustainable, desirable, regenerative, just, and equitable futures.

Another presentation in the session, given by Mrs Fiona Lord of the University of Technology Sydney, University also covered urban development in Cambodia, focussing however on governance arrangements and transformative capacities in secondary cities.