29 December 2011

Kork Khleangh Youth Committee Elected!

The latest Community meeting took place in Kouk Khleang last sunday 25.12.2011. We were happy to hear that a Youth Committee has been elected for the Youth Center. The Youth Committee will work closely with and have contact with the youth living in the community about relevant works and information of the youth center.

Noora and Inari from Komitu will land to Phnom Penh already next Sunday 1.1.2012 and have an open meeting in Kouk Khleang on Monday 2.1.2012 - more news coming after the departure!

Presentation with Aalto University Students WED 4.1.2012

Warm Welcome to the Presentation at Meta House with students from the Aalto University City in Crisis course 2011 Maria, Maria-Astrid and Fredrik!

On Wednesday 4.1. at 19.00 in Meta House

Presenting urban planning projects of students from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. After two field work periods in Phnom Phen in 2010 and 2011, students have developed various sustainable strategies for the development of Phnom Phen, Cambodia. Publications of the projects: www.issuu.com/aalto_cic

Komitu Architects will present the Kouk Khleang Youth Center project. More information in the blog: www.komituarchitects.org

Warmly welcome to attend our presentations of the ideas and projects!

Program for the whole feedback trip 4.1-7.1.2012 on Facebook event:
Aalto University City in Crisis course - Feed back trip to Phnom Phen: www.facebook.com/events/203673419720628/

20 December 2011


The warmest of season's greetings to all of you!

It's exciting times! Inari and Noora will leave to Phnom Penh on New Year's Eve as the construction of the center is due to start in the beginning of January 2012. We'll be posting news from the construction site regularly to the blog so stay tuned!

The funding for the Kouk Khleang Youth Center is almost secured, but if you would like to support the construction, donations can be made to Komitu's bank account or via PayPal on Komitu's partner organisation Ukumbi's website.

Komitu  / Noora Aaltonen
IBAN: FI25 1012 3500 3256 32

08 December 2011

Warm welcome to Komitu's Christmas Glögg!

Lämpimästi tervetuloa Komitun jouluglögeille nostamaan malja Kouk Khleangin nuorisokeskukselle sekä kuulemaan muista Ukumbi ry:n projekteista!

Tiistaina 13.2. klo 18-20 Rakennustaiteen museon huvilalla Kaivopuistossa, osoite Puistokatu 4.

Tarjolla pientä jouluista juotavaa ja purtavaa!

Terveisin Noora, Sisko, Tuuli, Maiju, Elina ja Inari sekä muu Ukumbi-jengi

Jouluglögit facebookissa 


Welcome to hear about the Kouk Khleang Youth Center to be built in Cambodia in the Spring 2012 and other projects of the Ukumbi ngo.

On Tuesday 13.2.2011 18-20 at the Museum of Finnish Architecture Villa at Kaivopuisto, Puistokatu 4.

Warm glögg and gingerbread served!

The event in facebook.

Ps. The Ukumbi Christmas cards to support the building of the center are available all the way to Christmas!

04 December 2011

Info meeting organized in Kouk Khleang community

On November 20th Mr Son Chumchuon from KKKHRDA organized an info meeting in Kouk Khleang community for the community members and CVS youth to discuss the schedule of the construction and the latest design. 25 people attended the meeting and everybody were enthusiastic and supportive of the new design. They also independently decided to organize a committee for taking responsibility of the building site and the building before, during and after the construction. We were extremely happy to hear their plans. It seems that we have very active and committed people to work with and we will be leaving the building in good hands after it is finished next spring. Next meeting in Kouk Khleang will be held on December 25th.

06 November 2011

Send your season's greetings with the Ukumbi Christmas Card!

Go to http://www.ukumbi.org/en/donate/christmas-cards.html to order your own! Available in pdf format and traditional postcards.

This year profits from the christmas card campaign will go to the building costs of our Kouk Khleang Youth Center project.

28 October 2011

Presentation at World Sustainable Building Conference

Last week three of us attended the World Sustainable Building Conference in Helsinki. The conference approached sustainability from many angles and we heard several presentations on important topics and met a load of interesting people. We even managed to snatch Cameron Sinclair from Architecture for Humanity for a lunch downtown.

On Friday the 21st Maiju held a presentation of the youth center in a session with other participatory projects. It was good to discuss with other people working on similar projects in different parts of the world.

26 October 2011

The design in progress

The design process of the Youth Center is going well. The room program has been altered a little bit according to the feedback we got from the second phase of the design and the architectural concept of the building has been completed. Now we are turning our focus to the technical issues and detailing.

The functional concept of the building can be presented by the above picture. The indoor spaces of the building have been divided into two parts. In the smaller part there are workshops downstairs and dormitories upstairs and in the larger part there are the multipurpose space, the doctor's office and the kitchen downstairs and the classroom, the library and the office upstairs. The heart of the Youth Center is in the shaded outdoor terrace in the middle were the youth and the local people can gather and spend time.

The technical concept can be seen above. The building is lifted up from the ground to protect it from the floods that might reach knee hight in Kouk Khleang. The large eaves and bamboo mesh covered terrace zones protect the users and the structures from rain and sun. The indoor spaces and roof structure are naturally ventilated.

Luckily we have skillful structural engineers to work with us and we are happy to continue our co-operation with them to bring the design to a more detailed level.

03 October 2011

Cambodia facing worst floods in a decade

During the last few days there has been very sad news coming from Cambodia. The country is suffering from worst floods in a decade. Accoring to Guardian, more than 150 people have died and thousands lost their homes.

Also the community in Kouk Khleag is flooding almost annually due to constructions in the nearby rice fields. In the picture below one of the future neighbors of the center is showing us the level of floodwater in some years. Hopefully the residents are surviving trough the extreme conditions.

23 September 2011

Proudly Presenting: Kouk Khleang Youth Center

The Youth Center has a new name!

As the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA) joined Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS) in the youth centre project, it could not be called just CVS Youth Center anymore. Instead the center got now a name from the community where it will be located. Thus, we are proud to present the newly named Kouk Khleang Youth Center! 

The centre will be located on the site of the former sewage pond (marked blue in the community land certificate) which is now unused as the community has joined the public sewage system.

29 July 2011

UPDF Compressed soil blocks

On Wednesday 20.7. Mr. Then Sokhom took us to see the manufacturing process of the compressed soil bricks. Urban Poor Development Fund (UPDF) is building a Training Centre for Community Builders, where they have started the manufacturing of compressed soil bricks in November 2009.

The soil bricks would be a very sustainable construction material as the current site to manufacture them is situated approximately only 7 km from our site. For the bricks, you mix 70-80% of sand and 20-30% of local soil with only 6% of cement.

First the soil and the sand are filtered and organic bits and bigger rocks are removed.

Ingredients are poured into the mixer and a little water is added depending on the moisture content of the sand and soil.

A mold is filled with the mixture and compressed into bricks. With three machines, imported from Thailand, we heard that they are able to manufacture up to 250 bricks a day.

In the afternoon we also visited a small health center built out of the compressed bricks a few more kilometers away.

19 July 2011

Flyer printing

Even though the workshop yesterday was very fruitful we were left with a feeling that not everyone around the site were aware of what was happening in their neighborhood. The explanation to that was that the border of the Kork Kleang community is right behind the site and so some of the neighbors were from the neighboring community and thus didn't have a clue of what was happening next to their homes. That's why we decided to print some flyers with the contact details for the Youth Center project to be given out Wednesday morning on our next visit to the site.

We ended up spending quite some time in the copy house and not to waste a single moment, waiting at the copy shop provided Elina an opportunity to continue the sketches for the room program on her laptop...

In addition to the flyer making we managed to squeeze in four meetings with nine different people today. We got an exhausting amount of information about how to treat the site, about bamboo construction, about making and using of soil blocks and about prices of different construction materials.

Samaki 271 Community Hall

On monday 18.7. Mr. Seng from STT took us all to visit the new community hall of the Samaki 271 Community which is right next to Kork Kleang. The community hall is meant to be used by the surrounding residents as a place for meetings, gatherings, celebrations and for example as a place to do crafts.

The project was started by architecture students from the Tokyo University of Science in Japan together with students from the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) here in Phnom Penh. All construction work has been carried out by the students together with the community members.

One can clearly see that some of the solutions haven't been completely thought through and it has been more important to empower the community members than to get a perfect result. The students have decided to use bamboo without any protection against insects and the weather so even though the building is only one year old, the bamboo parts used as decoration have already suffered badly. Despite the rough look of the project the site is still worth a visit for the nice communal attempt as well as the nice, green, shaded front yard of the hall.

18 July 2011

Workshop with CVS, KKKHRDA and Community members

Monday morning started with an effective workshop at the Kork Kleang Community. We organised the session for the youth from CVS together with the community members.

We got loads of useful new information but if only we could speak Khmer, would we have gotten another chunk more! Great thanks though to the tireless personnel of CVS and KKKHRDA for translation, especially Mr. Somony and Mr. Son Choun!

17 July 2011

Visiting the brick makers

KOMITU is wishing to use unfired brick as the main load bearing material of the youth center. Unfired brick means that the brick is dried in the open air and sun instead of an oven with temperatures up to 1000°C that the ordinary brick requires to reach its strength. To reach those temperatures the oven consumes lots of energy which means that compared to that the unfired brick is a very ecological option. The unfired brick can also be made on site or close to the site by local craftsmen and from the local earth so no heavy transports are required. Only the equipment and the small amount of cement that is mixed to the earth need to be transported to the building site.

After having seen the Sra Pou vocational school we visited the site for making unfired brick run by Habitat for Humanity. The visit was extremely interesting and useful and the brick-makers were helpful. The organizer of the brick-making, Mr Rith, was not available but we are hopefully going to meet him during next week and get even more specific information about the possibilities of unfired brick.

On site we got to see the whole process of how the lovely red-colored earth is turned into strong building components. There was a large variety of different bricks and even a new experiment for a tile-like, ornamented brick!

Visiting Sra Pou Vocational School

On Sunday 17.7. Elina and Inari visited the newly built Sra Pou Voca
tional School in Oudong, some 50 km northwest from the centre of Phnom Penh.

The school building itself was just as beautiful as seen in the photographs on the website but
unfortunately it had already suffered some damage by the harsh elements of the rainy season. Thus we spent some time trying to figure out some details for fixing the doors that had been broken in the wind.

The wind keeps the building comfortably cool and pleasant to work in but unfortunately also brings a lot of water inside when raining. Because of the water and lack of secure, rainproof doors, they have not been able to start the vocational activities in the school yet.

The driving force in the project, the Blue Tent Project Manager Mr. Sous Sina, seems to be doing excellent work in the community though! He already has even his personal home stacked with equipment like sewing machines and moto air pumps to place in the school as soon as they get the doors and roof fixed. For this they would require extra funding of approximately $500, so if you would like to help Sina with the project please contact Hilla and Anssi trough the Sra Pou website!

Nice to see you Phnom Penh!

Inari and Elina have landed to Phnom Penh, where we will be working with the Youth Center project until Thursday 21.7. Tomorrow Monday morning we will have a workshop with the organisations CVS, KKKHRDA, with the local youth and members of the Kork Kleang Community.

So far there have been a couple of effective meetings and adjusting to the heat and the timezone. It has been very nice to see old and new friends as well as old and new places. But sad to say, with Boeung Kak lake the game is definitely over now. Although for the people and the communities still some rays of hope remain of being able to stay in the area.

If you would like to meet with us while we are here, please contact us in our new Cambodian prepaid 0972 327 847.

12 July 2011

KOMITU members paint for peace

Noora Aaltonen and Elina Tenho took part in the Multicolored Dreams street art happening. This year's theme was peace. Here you can see their two beautiful paintings, which are located in the center of Helsinki. Idea of Multicolored Dreams is to decorate the plywood walls surrounding the many construction sites with paintings.

The Dove
The Dove
Life of Peace and Quiet
Life of peace and quiet

10 June 2011

KOMITU receives a grant from the Ministry for Foreign affairs of Finland

Ministry for Foreign affairs of Finland has granted altogether 188 000 euros to 15 different development projects in the field of culture of which 25 000 euros to KOMITU and CVS.

Ministry for Foreign affairs gives out grants to projects which promote cooperation between cultural actors in developing countries and Finland. In the evaluation process of this year's applications the principals of the Development Policy of Finland were taken into consideration. The principals emphasize poverty reduction, promotion of equity and human rights and environmental issues. Special attention was given to enhancing educational possibilities, supporting the culture and cultural identity of the developing countries and creating permanent cooperation networks.

19 March 2011

Komitu awarded at the Suvilahti Snow Sculpting Event 5.3.2011

Komitu team, Elina, Noora, Sisko, Tuuli and Inari together with Lennart Lang from our working space 9B participated in a snow sculpting event at Suvilahti a few weeks ago. Our winning proposal of two pyramids got one of the three prizes!

The event was organized by design agencies Part and Wastelands. Invited judges were Pekka Sauri, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki (Public Works and Environmental Affairs) and Professor Trevor Harris.

Please see more of the sculptures and other excellent pictures of the event by photographer Lassi Häkkinen.

13 March 2011

KOMITUn jäseniä haastetaan usein siitä, miten suunnittelu Kambodzassa - 8352 kilometriä Helsingistä kaakkoon - onnistuu ekologisesti. Olemme kaikki ystäväpiireissämme tunnettuja kiinnostuksestamme ympäristöasioihin. Lentopäästöt ovat huolestuttava lommo esimerkillisen ympäristövaikuttajan roolissamme. Päätimme aloittaa matkan parempaan tiedostamalla aiheuttamamme ympäristötuhon suuruuden - ja laskea päästömme.

Finnairin päästölaskurin mukaan yhden hengen suora lento Helsingistä Bangkokiin tuottaa 1315kg hiilidioksidia. Yksittäisen ihmisen vuosittaisten hiilidioksidipäästöjen olisi pysyttävä 3 tonnissa. Päästäksemme kartalle lukujen suuruudesta kertokaamme, että Helsingin Sanomien hiililaskurin mukaan kerrostalokaksiossa asuva, maitotuotteita käyttävä kasvissyöjä päästää vuodessa 2700kg hiilidioksidia - normaali-ihmisen hiilidioksidisummaan tulevat tämän lisäksi päästöt liikkumisesta sekä muista elämäntapavalinnoista.

Varsinainen haitta ympäristölle on tuota lukua vielä paljon suurempi. Kun mukaan lasketaaan myös vesihöyry, sulfaatti ja nokihiukkaset sekä välilliset haitat, ovat päästöt 2-5 kertaiset, kirjoittaa WWF.

On selvää, että kambodzalaisen rakennusprojektin kanssa suomesta käsin työskenneltäessä kestävän kehityksen mukaisia päästötavoitteita on lähes mahdotonta olla ylittämättä - Paikan päällä on käytävä ainakin jossain vaiheessa projektia. Osallistava suunnittelu paikallisten nuorten kanssa ei toteudu sähköpostitse, eikä se pidemmän päälle ole innostavaa Skype:n välitykselläkään. Kuinka siis hyvitämme takaisin ympäristölle?

Päästöjen kompensointi sijoittamalla rahaa joko suoraan ympäristöprojekteihin, taikka ympäristöjärjestöjen kautta muihin kestävän kehityksen hankeisiin olisi mahdollista. Toiminnan luotettavuus ja tehokkuus kuitenkin jakaa mielipiteitä KOMITUn sisällä. Vaikka tuloksia onkin hankalampi mitata numeroilla, loppujen lopuksi suurin kompensointimahdollisuutemme on sisäänrakennettuna omassa projektissamme.

Rakennuksessamme tullaan käyttämään uusituvia rakennusmateriaaleja, kuten bambua ja maa-aineksesta rakennettuja tiiliä, sekä kierrätysmateriaaleja. Projektin aikana pyrimme kehittämään myös uusia kestäviä rakennustapoja. Saamiamme tuloksia ja koottua tietoa välitämme nuorille ja rakentamisen sektorilla työskenteleville yhteistyön, luentojen ja artikkeleiden muodossa, Kambodzassa ja Suomessa.

Päästömäärät eivät enää tunnu lamaannuttavilta, kun ajattelee projektimme välillisiä vaikutuksia ja vaikutusmahdollisuuksia ympäristöasioiden edistämiseen - Niitähän keksii loputtomiin! Täydennämme alla olevaa listaa projektin edetessä, ja ympäristöpoliittisten periaatteidemme muotoutuessa:

Miten KOMITU pitää päästönsä tästä lähtien minimissään:
-Valitsee suoran lennon välilaskullisen lennon sijaan
-Valitsee lentoyhtiön, joka päivittää lentokalustoaan vähempipäästöiseksi

KOMITU:n luontaiset valinnat, jotka vähentävät samalla ympäristön kuormitusta:

-Suosii kasvisruokaa ja sosiaalisesti kestäviä, paikallisia yrityksiä ja tuotteita
(kysy meiltä vinkkejä esim. hyvien periaatteiden ravintoloista, jos olet matkustamassa Phnom Penhiin)
-Liikkuu polkupyörällä (usko tai älä, onnistuu mainiosti myös Phnom Penhissä!)
ja polkupyörätakseilla (nyt mahdollista myös Helsingissä! Tosin vain kesäaikaan...)

21 January 2011

Another grant for Komitu!

Yes! Yesyesyesyesyesyes!

Today there was a letter waiting at out studio's door saying that we received a grant for the design work of the CVS Youth Center! Thank you Valtion rakennustaidetoimikunta! (Finland's state committee for architecture.)

We are very grateful for the grants we have received so far, but there is still a lot to collect so any ideas are greatly appreciated! Just contact us if you'd like to get involved!

12 January 2011

A possible plot

It seems that CVS may have found a plot for the youth center to be built on! Yipii! This is a huge step that takes the project a lot closer to realization. There are still some things that need to be confirmed but we will post more information and pictures when there are some. Exciting!