WP#3: Sustainable Neighbourhoods

WP#3 in a Nutshell
The objective of WP#3 is to understand as comprehensively as possible the ecological, socio-cultural and institutional context for sustainable urban district planning in Cambodia. In addition to the consolidation of joint research cooperation with the academic partners, a close cooperation and common working basis with the local key player, the Phnom Penh Capital Administration (PPCA), as the most important local implementation partner, should be established.

Rationale & Background
There is a rapid and often unplanned urbanisation over the last twenty years in Cambodia. A doubling of urbanisation level is expected until 2030. This leads to an unbalanced population growth, particularly in Phnom Penh, which tripled in the past ten years reaching around 2.1 million inhabitants.
A significant improvement of living standards is expected for the next years, especially of the urban middle class. As a result there is a strong demand for urban renewal and new neighbourhoods with a large socio-cultural, economic and environmental impact. Thus, there is a need to better understand and analyse its causes, patterns and trends.
Based on this, sustainable neighbourhoods are considered as key elements for enhancing the quality of urban life in Phnom Penh and are crucial for climate protection, climate adaptation and resilience.

Theoretical Framework
The following framework projects will be used as background and a starting point:

  • The European framework for sustainable urban planning, an EU founded project Ecocity (30 partners, 8 European countries) (Messerschmidt et. al., 2002-2005).
  • The city coaching and process design methodology of the EU funded project SNOWBALL – Energy Smart Urban Design (Messerschmidt et. al., 2006-2008).
  • The assessment and rating system for Sustainable Urban Districts by the German Sustainable Building Council DGNB including a comprehensive set of criteria and indicators (DGNB, Messerschmidt et. al., from 2009 on).
  • Multi-layered neighbourhood development strategies as applied for the UMore Park in Minneapolis in cooperation with the University of Minneapolis.

Research Questions
Our WP investigates how sustainable neighbourhoods (design, construction, operation and management) can contribute to the urban quality of life with special regard to:

  • Addressing the cultural heritage of Cambodia, changing socio-cultural conditions and the need for an increased public space area with a high quality of sojourn and liveability for new and existing developments.
  • Climate protection by energy-efficient buildings, employing smart energy supply systems and using renewable energy sources on the neighbourhood level.
  • Climate adaptation by climate responsive urban design for buildings and open spaces supporting comfort and health.
  • Circular economy including sustainable resource management, material flows and water cycles in a blue-green infrastructure.


  • To understand the environmental, socio-cultural and institutional context in Cambodia. 
  • To establish and to consolidate the cooperation with the Phnom Penh Capital Administration (PPCA)
  • To achieve a 1st conceptualisations of strategies and an assessment system for “Sustainable Neighbourhoods”.
  • To prepare a feasibility study of an eco-town development in a city district of Phnom Penh
  • To develop the 1st edition of the exhibition “Green buildings and Sustainable Neighbourhoods” as a road show in Cambodia in order to increase awareness about the topic of sustainable buildings and urbanisation.
  • To contribute to the trans-disciplinary “Green School Demonstration Project”, the joint “BuildPeople Survey” and the subsequent “Quality of Life City Index”.

Milestones of the Definition Phase

  • 3 baseline reports, including preconditions for sustainable neighbourhood development, planning framework, processes and stakeholders
  • Pre-feasibility study on Phnom Penh „Eco Town Development“ and capacity building with PPCH
  • First conceptualisation of planning strategies and assessment system for “Sustainable Neighbourhoods”
  • First conceptualisation of strategies and assessment system for “Sustainable Neighbourhoods”
  • 1st edition of the exhibition on “Green Buildings and Sustainable Neighbourhoods” as a road show in Cambodia
  • Contributions to the “Green School Demonstration Project”, the joint “BuildPeople Survey” and subsequently to the “Urban Quality of Life City Index”

The knowledge transfer of European and international strategies will lead to innovative ways of neighbourhood development in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. 

It is expected that the research results contribute to:

  • Raising considerably value to design and to foster the sustainability performance
  • Assessment and audits for certification of sustainable neighbourhoods by DGNB or a Cambodian institution
  • New multi-layered and collaborative planning strategies for implementing sustainable neighbourhood development („Ecocity Transition Lab“)
  • Dissemination of results through presentations at conferences, scientific publications as well as contribution to the work of the international Green Building Council (GBC).

WP#3 is implemented by Eble Messerschmidt & Partner (EMP) and Phnom Penh City Hall (PPCH)

Download link to
WP#3 Research Poster


Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) 2019. Phnom Penh Sustainable City Plan 2018-2030.

Milestone WP#3 II.M1: Bibliography of the most current and relevant publications

• Eble Messerschmidt Partner • Architekten und Stadtplaner PartGmbB • Berliner Ring 47a • 72076 Tübingen • Germany
WP Leader: Dipl-Ing. Rolf Messerschmidt (messerschmidt@eble-architektur.de)
WP Research Associate: Oliver Lambrecht (lambrecht@eble-architektur.de)
WP Research Associate: Marcelo Rivera Leyton (rivera@eble-architektur.de)