Demolition ban on historic architecture

historic architecture The government has ordered a ban on the demolition of heritage buildings as well as antique traditional houses and pagodas, especially those in cities such as Battambang and Siem Reap.

Demolition ban on historic architecture

Prime Minister Hun Sen issued the directive on Tuesday saying that sustainable conservation of Khmer architecture is key to the development of heritage cities which can attract tourism and includes French Colonial, traditional wooden houses and century-old pagodas.

Demolition ban on historic architecture
Demolition ban on historic architecture

The directive came as a slew of heritage buildings have been reportedly modernised or demolished to make way for new development.

(It’s not the first; look at Alberto Mozó’s BIP building in Santiago, Chile. I wrote about it: “Every building should be designed for deconstruction; cities change, climates change, resources and materials get expensive.”)

One thing that has changed since the BIP is BIM: Building Information Modeling, all the materials in a building can be easily tracked for reuse, being “merely another layer of data that can be easily incorporated and tracked throughout a building’s life.” It can change the way you think about buildings and materials.

Taking reuse to its logical conclusion, Rau sees a future where every part of a building would be treated as a temporary service, rather than owned. From the facade to the lightbulbs, each element would be rented from the manufacturer, who would be responsible for providing the best possible performance and continual upkeep, as well as dealing with the material at the end of its life.

This was tried years ago by Interface, with their “Evergreen Lease” model; it failed because carpet is a capital cost, but renting carpet as a service is an operating cost. In fact, tax implications like depreciation are a major reason buildings get demolished instead of renovated; it has been written off for tax purposes. So we really need a tax overhaul to be able to consider building components a “product as service.”

“Permission must be sought for repairs, renovation or demolition of all heritage buildings from the Culture Ministry,” he said.

Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn yesterday said: “In my province, almost 500 hundred pagodas and antique buildings still stand from the French Protectorate era. They have been saved from collapsing or being demolished by developers.”

He said that some were destroyed because of safety, especially old buildings built by the Pol Pot regime.

Kampong Spue provincial governor Vey Samnang yesterday said: “I appreciate Mr Hun Sen’s decision to keep heritage buildings for conservation,” he said, adding that there are hundreds in his province.

“Conservation of heritage buildings is the provincial administration’s duty for next generation. If we don’t keep the ancient buildings for the future, we will lose our religious identity. The heritage buildings are our Khmer identity that we have a duty to conserve,” said Samnang.

It’s Time to Ban Demolition and Design for Deconstruction

“Ban Demolition” is a tag on TreeHugger because we have long argued for renovation and reuse, especially in this era when we worry about the upfront carbon emissions of new construction. Oliver Wainwright of the Guardian is on this case, too, with The case for… never demolishing another building.

In the UK, the construction industry accounts for 60% of all materials used, while creating a third of all waste and generating 45% of all CO2 emissions in the process. It is a greedy, profligate and polluting monster, gobbling up resources and spitting out the remains in intractable lumps.

But Wainwright goes way beyond just renovation and reuse of existing buildings; he calls for a complete rethink of how we build new buildings, and looks at the work of Dutch architect Thomas Rau, who designs for disassembly, so that every part can be recovered.
His firm recently put the principle into practice with its new headquarters for Triodos, Europe’s leading ethical bank, which he says is the world’s first totally demountable office building. With a structure made entirely from wood, it has been designed with mechanical fixings so that every element can be reused, with all material logged and designed for easy disassembly.

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