On 28 September 2021, the Build4People Research Conference took place. The main aim of this event was to present and to disseminate information on the Build4People project, its approaches and preliminary research findings to a broad alliance of stakeholders from the state, corporate sector and civil society.

Download PDF-file with all slides shown during the Build4People Research Conference (4,7 MB)

At first, the recent signing of a MoU between Phnom Penh Capital Administration (PPCA) and Build4People got appreciated through welcome addresses of HE, the Vice-Governor of PPCA, Nuon Pharat, of the German Ambassador in the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, Christian Berger, of the representative of the funding agency, Dr. Heike Bauer and of the Build4People representative, Dr. Michael Waibel.

Afterwards, the envisaged joint activities of the joint PCCA-Build4People cooperation got introduced by Rolf Messerschmidt, CEO of Eble Messerschmidt Partner and Build4People Work Package #3 Leader “Sustainable Neighbourhoods” together with Dr. Tep Makathy, Director of the Cambodian Institute of Urban Studies, which is the main project management partner of Build4People.

After the presentation of Rolf Messerschmidt and Tep Makathy, the Chief of Staff of PPCA, Mr. Vannak Seng responded and explained more into detail about the future steps on join cooperation from the side of the Phnom Penh Capital Administration.

After a tea- and coffee break, the second part of the conference started during which mainly methodological approaches within the Build4People project got discussed together with local stakeholders.

At the beginning, Dr. Michael Waibel and Dr. Anke Blöbaum explained about the concept of urban quality of life which serves as integrating link of the whole Build4People project.

Then, three parallel breakout sessions took place which focussed on different methodological approaches to implement citizen science approaches, to combine urban climate planning with questions of thermal comfort and last but not least to bring together the spatial dimension of sustainable neighbourhood development with the policy dimension of sustainable urban transformation. These sessions were prepared beforehand by the Build4People research associates together with the local partners.

Summary Content of breakout Session #1 “How to implement citizen science approaches?”

The Citizen Science methodology integrates public outreach and scientific data collection (Brossard, et al., 2005) by implementing the collection and analysis of data often relating to the natural world by members of the general public. This approach brings the public and science closer together (“scientific citizenship”) and involves the public more deeply in dialogue and decision-making around issues related to risk and environmental threat.

When aiming at the enhancement of the urban quality of life of citizens in Phnom Penh we regard it as an essential mean to actively involve citizens in activities and projects. Giving citizens the possibility to interact with their urban environment by investigating and documenting information about urban green infrastructure (UGI) and urban quality of life (UQoL) spaces is where the Input APP is a useful tool. Through the Citizen Science Input APP, we are connecting a spatial location to the data being collected by WP#1 and WP#4. This offers the scope of spatial statistical analysis that will enhance the analysis of conventional tabular data or traditional graphs and charts. Later, that will allow a more objective spatial interpretation of the UQoL broken down to particular neighborhoods and suburbs in Phnom Penh.

Figure: Illustration of what Build4People Citizen Science Input APP will provide

Discussion Topics during Session #1

During the breakout session with the local Build4People partners and other conference participants, we were able to gain new insights and perspectives that will supported planning and structuring the several work activities regarding the development and implementation of the Build4People Citizen Science Input APP. The discussion during the breakout session was structured around following guiding questions:

Guiding question #1: What do we need to consider about implementing the Citizen Science Input APP

Several participants mentioned that they have experience with app-based data collection. Hence the work plan with the Input APP should not be technically difficult. Based on the rich experience of our local partners in using such apps, we could learn more about the data collection via the envisaged Build4People Citizen Science Input APP and what we need to prepare for that approach. All the participants agreed that app-based data collection is efficient in monitoring the data collection resulting in better accuracy. Furthermore, participants mentioned that it is a good thing that the app supports both Android and iOS operating systems. During the data collection using the smartphone-based app, GPS accuracy is a concern. Another concern about the app in data collection is if it only works with the internet or not. If it is only functional if there is an internet connection available, it will be limited in terms of use.

To implement the app on a public level, one of the concerns is how the data storage and management will be done. Another suggestion during the public level implementation is keeping the APP interphase interesting, for example through pictures, emoji etc. Altogether, this approach was considered to be an enriching way of collecting data involving many citizens in the course of this process and furthermore of gaining reliable and accurate data.

Guiding question #2: What are the aspects we need to consider when we are conducting research on urban green infrastructure?

Participants mentioned their concern about the decrease of green areas within the city and increase of built-up areas. Local people have a general interest in urban green infrastructure but there are issues like tree tenure and others that needed to be considered.

Our colleagues from WP#5 “Urban Climate” stated to be also very interested in applying the app and measuring further aspects of the urban climate and environment. They have raised the questions of how we can make sure that the respondents will be on the same page regarding terms (i.e., thermal comfort, perception of heat). This will be an important step to work intensively on during the translation of questions and pretesting of the app. Furthermore, we discussed how the users will be guided through the city when they get asked questions within the app. In regard of urban climate aspects, it will be a question if participants would use the app inside (considering indoor climate) and outside (considering outdoor climate). Moreover, we will also reflect on the target groups to reach with the Citizen Science Input App approach to meet the interests of the participants and to increase their motivation.

During the breakout session notes got taken via a shared miro board that supported us to structure the questions and feedback:


After the session, the main aspects of the inspiring discussions got shared with the plenum of the conference.

The session #1 organizers would like to thank everyone for participation in this breakout session and sharing their perspective, experience and raising helpful and important questions concerning the Citizen Science approach. It has been agreed on having further discussions soon. The Build4People team is looking forward to this interesting research approach during the whole project duration. The ideas and considerations are regarded as a very fruitful starting point for the next steps of this transdisciplinary work activity that combines and connects many research areas and implementation aims of the Build4People project.

Session #1 report compiled by: Annalena Becker & Gulam Mohiuddin.

Breakout session #2 “How to combine urban climate planning with thermal comfort of building users?” was led by representatives of WP#2 & WP#5. This session focused on urban climate and comfort perception of building users. It started with presentations from WP#2 and WP#5 on thermal comfort perception in urban outdoor and indoor residential space and the implications on the energy demands in terms of cooling under the consideration of Phnom Penh’s tropical climate along with their research approaches related to the topic.

The discussion was guided by three questions and the key concepts of urban microclimate, built environment, thermal comfort, energy demand and quality of life. Due to the time restrains only two of the three questions initially identified were answered from the participants. The last question ‘How can we consider climate change in our designs?’ was therefore decided to be left open for a later meeting for further discussion.

In regard of the first question ‘How can we combine urban climate planning with the thermal comfort of building users?’ the discussion was focused on how different materials can affect the microclimate, examples of road paving materials vs green surface cover were mentioned. Shadowing was pointed out as having an impact on comfort perception outdoors and building design and specifically orientation was mentioned as an important factor for indoor comfort.

In regard of the second question ‘How do you see the link between indoor and outdoor climate?’ the importance of material selection for buildings construction was highlighted along with the presence of openings (windows, doors) and their quality. These were referred not only in regards to the building envelope but also to the inside of the building and how they can prevent indoor overheating. 

The final part of the discussion focused on the discrepancy between the traditional design, where openness with natural ventilation and airflow are a main characteristic, and the modern occurring structures which are characterised by a ‘close’ design for energy efficiency and air-conditioning. It was concluded that both design methods have their own justification and that there is a need to understand better the area around the buildings and thus what does microclimate means for different scales related to buildings and what that means for the indoor temperatures and the energy demand. This linkage should be established and become a principal component for the building design and it’s a topic that we want to investigate further in the coming years of the Build4People project.

Session #2 report compiled by: Christina Karagianni.

Breakout session #3 “How to  promote sustainable neighbourhood development in the context of sustainable urban transformation” was organised and moderated by representatives from Work Package #3 and Work Package #6. Participants from NGO’s, governmental parties, start-ups incubators and planners shared their gained insights based on their experience on multi-stakeholder projects or actions aimed at urban sustainability.


The main aims of Session #3 were:

  • To gain deeper understanding of multi-stakeholder projects or actions aimed at urban sustainability
  • To learn from their challenges, limitation and achievements
  • To incorporate the experiences into the Build4People Ecocity Transition Lab (ECTL) and the Build4People Sustainable Building Arena (SBA)


The Breakout session #3 “How to  promote sustainable neighbourhood development in the context of sustainable urban transformation” started with a short description of the breakout session aims. As research associates from WP#3 and WP#6, Marcelo Rivera and Ravi Jayaweera presented a short introduction to their respective work package approaches.

To start the discussion session the participants were asked to introduce some multi-stakeholder projects or actions aimed at urban sustainability where they have taken part. The first person to participate was Mr. Dietz from BORDA, a NGO specialising in full-cycle decentralised sanitation. He shared his experience on developing waste management strategies in Kratié Province, Cambodia. Among the challenges he mentioned was raising awareness of the public, the integration of human and financial resources and to develop an efficient conflict management strategy to procure the understanding of all parties. Based on his experience he provided us meaningful recommendations such as identifying target groups from an early stage and to bring them on-board. Government involvement during project development was also mentioned as an important aspect to be considered  as well as the clear identification of financial implications for all stakeholders. 

Ms. Mélanie Mossard, as Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation of Impact Hub Phnom Penh, talked about “the Urban Mobility Incubator”, a project that aimed to support the technology and innovations that could transform mobility in Cambodia, and make it more inclusive and sustainable. She mentioned that one of their biggest challenges was the integration of all parties involved in the implementation phase and recommended identifying opportunities after the problem definition stage as well as sharing results on multiple events and not just at the final stage of the project.

Afterwards, Mr. Vannak Seng described his experience while “cleaning up” sidewalks from street vendors in Phnom Penh and highlighted the importance of involving all parties in achieving long term results as well as the relevance of considering cultural factors.

Main Inputs and Conclusions 

It was highly appreciated that the participants of Session #3 shared meaningful recommendations for the methodological approaches of WP#3 and WP#6.

First of all, the identification of stakeholders was agreed as one of the most important factors that drive long term success of project implementations. Having the target group as the center of the analysis and to include it in the process with participative tools such as workshops was also mentioned as a key element to design better solutions to identified problems. Assigning clear roles and responsibilities to the parties was also highlighted. The sharing and discussion of project results constantly, and not just in a final closing event was described as a critical aspect that allows the refinement and continuous challenge of project outcomes. Finally, to build a monitoring and learning process was pointed out as a crucial planning step that enables to follow up and to sustain the momentum on implementations of plans. 

The session #3 organizing team is very thankful for the active participation and lively discussion and aims to do justice to the valuable inputs during the upcoming Build4People project activities.

Session #3 report compiled by: Ravi Jayaweera, Marcelo Rivera and Nuria Roig.

The Build4People Research Conference was concluded by closing words of the Build4People representative Dr. Michael Waibel and of HE Vice-Governor of Phnom Penh Capital Administration, Nuon Pharat. Both very much appreciated the strong commitment of the local stakeholders and expressed their sincere thanks for their active participation which made this event so successful.