Friends Center at Angkor Hospital for Children

Project Profiles

Friends Center at Angkor Hospital for Children

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Center for Friends at Angkor Hospital for Children. Courtesy of COOKFOX Architects

Center for Friends at Angkor Hospital for Children. Copyright COOKFOX Architects

The Friends Center is a 3,800 square foot visitor outreach and education center designed by COOKFOX Architects, located on the campus of the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The guiding force behind its design was the need to provide a contextually relevant space where visitors could be welcomed without jeopardizing patient privacy or interfering with the operations of a busy pediatric hospital. The architectural solution was to create a layered, transparent structure that effectively mediates visitors’ experience of the hospital while forging a connection with the surrounding vernacular architecture. The overall form, a square structure on an elevated plane, refers to the traditional raised Khmer home.

Informed by Terrapin’s strategies and research, and drawing on elements of Cambodia’s rich heritage, the building also expresses a modern ethic of sustainability – one that acknowledges that the health of Cambodia’s people and its environment are inherently interconnected. The building is inspired by the achievements of Khmer culture, including the monumental architecture of the Angkor period, which managed annual monsoon rains through an ingenious system of canals and large reservoirs. Functionally and symbolically, water lies at the heart of the new building, where an inverted roof channels rainwater to a central reservoir, open to the sky through a square aperture. Layers of shading and a deep overhang are precisely tuned to the path of the sun, so that the building’s conceptual and functional gestures become inseparable.

Terrapin also instructed the development of a clean energy project for the hospital, called Naga Biofuels. Supporting the hospital’s mission of improving public health, the AHC now uses biodiesel (B100) from waste vegetable oil for 100% of its generators and vehicle fleet. Continuing the narratives of sustainability and public health, the project now provides fuel to a consortium of Cambodian nonprofits that address urgent needs in healthcare and children’s welfare. In addition to addressing its architectural context, the building’s simple form is a response to the local environment and particular social dynamic of Siem Reap. The project reinforces ethics of social responsibility through strategies that include sourcing of responsible materials, employment of local laborers and artisans, and the use of clean, renewable energy. By creating an open, reflective space, the Friends Center encourages visitors to connect personally and focus on the well-being of future generations.

*Header and feature image copyright COOKFOX Architects

As a partner, Chris is an architect and sustainability leader focused on systemic thinking to address challenges in the built environment. Chris believes we can learn how to live on this planet if we start listening to nature again.