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Behind KBJ Residences

An extended read exploring the design process behind the project from its initial stage of conceptualization down to the nitty-gritty.

Top down shot of scattered floorplans and stationeries.

With Kambujaya Residences, our goal was to create living spaces that are responsive and relevant to the context of our surroundings, climate, and our community's culture. Like most great projects, the design process began with a clear concept then trickled down to important yet often overlooked details. The result is an amalgamation of smart design choices and unique features that work together to ensure functionality without compromising the visual aesthetics of our homes.

Conscious Architecture

Influenced by the lush surroundings, we wanted to create and introduce a new style of living in Cambodia, one which was symbiotic with nature, unique to the local climate and aesthetically striking.  We knew the design had to differ and go beyond the usual standard of residential linkhouses and craft a beautiful and functional space that people enjoy living in and significantly improve their quality of life.

A Blast From the Past

The core conceptualization behind Kambujaya Residences is a homage to the earlier Cambodian shophouse prototype. We took inspiration from its creative and functional use of space (especially in terms of the courtyard feature), revitalized it, and gave it a modern touch.

Section diagrams of old Khmer shophouse design.
Source: Transformation of Shophouses in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: In the Aspect ofSpatial Organization,

Spacial Organization

Mindful allocation of the spaces within each home allows for a practical and flexible lifestyle. Each movement from one space to the other is simple and fluid, and is centered around the family-oriented central courtyard. Every room inside a Kambujaya home, public or private, is cleverly interwoven with the many dedicated green spaces throughout the residence.

Exploded SketchUp render floorplan showcasing the interior.


Shophouses or linkhouses are meant to offer their residents the flexibility of living, working, and doing businesses all in the same spot. The layout of our Kambujaya homes is conveniently versatile in that they can easily be converted into coffee shops, office spaces, design studios, or boutique retail stores, all with the added benefit of natural greenery, lighting, and ventilation integration.

Café setup in a kitchen.

Climate Responsiveness

Straight up view of a skylight through the atrium.

Central Courtyard

With consideration of the total footprint and height of the buildings, we introduced an internal courtyard in the centre. Acting as a natural source of light, our expansive skylight allows each floor of the interior to be illuminated which, together with sunlight seeping through from both front and back of the house, provides even lighting during the day. Additionally, the vast atrium space also creates a passage way for air circulation to ventilate in and around the building which can minimise the use of air conditioning.

Surrounding Influenced

For Kambujaya Residences, our challenge was to strategically incorporate greenery throughout the site in order to provide a lush green living environment that seamlessly blends into the houses — thus enabling a unique living experience for our future residents.

Render of the entrance of a Kambujaya Residences unit with overhanging plants hanging from the first floor balcony.

To ensure that the integral benefits of residential greenery are well considered, a tedious process of setting out strategically placed landscaping (down to the smallest details of picking out and assigning specific locations for each plant species) as well as providing customized plumbing/drainage solutions were considered to address issues encountered in/around the houses.

Drainage piping system in a backyard.

A Detailed-oriented Approach

Cavity Walls

When a building isn't designed to properly dissipate heat, the internal environment inside a house can cause discomfort— especially during nighttime. This is primarily tied to the thermal conductivity of building materials and how heat transfers work between different environments (ie outside and inside your house).

For instance, a dense red clay brick, which is the most commonly used masonry material in Cambodia, has a fairly high value of thermal conductivity due to its denser molecules. Thus, a brick wall of a building (that is exposed to the scorching sun all day) acts as a heat wall by trapping and storing excess heat during the day.

At night, however, as the outdoor temperature starts to drop, then that stored heat that’s trapped inside the brick needs to dissipate to a much cooler environment— particularly the living space of your home. This natural heat transfer can sometimes even cause the interior of your house to have a higher temperature than the outdoor environment!

This background knowledge has led the Kambujaya team to decisively incorporate the “cavity wall" technique into our Kambujaya Residences design – where there's an air gap in between 2 separate brick linings that make up our double brick walls. Technically, this construction approach helps us facilitate better heat flow throughout the building's structure while minimizing the heat impact on the interior environment. This ensures not only a more comfortable natural environment for residents (after sundown) but also helps minimize energy usage tied to cooling equipment like air cons, fans, etc.

Illustrated analysis of heat gain with double wall.

Air Gap

The expansiveness of the glass skylight provides for plentiful natural light to seep into the interior, but can also trap an uncomfortable amount of heat due to its enormous exposed surface area of laminated glass to the sun. To counter this, the architecture called for a clever design solution that facilitates natural air flow directly beneath the glass surface. Open air gaps (covered with mosquito netting) sit between the connection of the skylight structure and front/back tiled roofs. Thus, allowing for a sufficient amount of air to pass through for a passive cooling effect while keeping bugs/insects out. This natural cross ventilation technique gives our residents an added benefit of efficient energy cost savings (as they don't have to rely too much on mechanical means for cooling).

Exterior shot of skylight and cement roof tiles.
Textured wall with silhouette of palm leaves.

Feature Wall

In the indoor courtyard, we've added an uninterrupted feature wall that spans nearly 14 meters from the ground level to the top roof level gracing the skylight. The fully hand-crafted rough texture is used to intentionally complement the organic nature of the lush greenery that will soon be added in as a part of the courtyard's integrated landscaping.

Flushed Skirting

Throughout each home, we've applied a skirting technique known as a “shadow gap” where a recession is created — providing for a visual but subtle space between the wall above and the strip of base skirting tiles below. This 12mm gap between 2 separate but flushed surfaces makes for a unique appearance and adds depth to an otherwise plain white wall.

Close up shot of shadow gap.
Interior shot of a shower with curved wall in a bathroom.

Curved Frontage

Cladded to the signature curve of our inner top floor bathroom walls are some classic white ceramic tiles that have been meticulously cut from the same materials used throughout the entire bathroom. This approach preserves the visual continuity and the intended softness of the curvature.

Curated Palette

Exploring the juxtaposition of stone and wood, Kambujaya's well-appointed interior finishes are a curated palette of rich textures. The palatial materiality forms an organic and texturally rich aesthetic that is distinctive and timeless while the neutral tones create a sense of warmth within the space.

Image of Kambujaya Residences material palette: tiles, a wood panel and a glass block.