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Meet Unnpheng Puthvisal: CEO of Archicam, Best Luxury Villa Architecture Winner

Unnpheng Puthvisal speaks to LUXUO on winning the Best Luxury Villa Architecture award and shaping Cambodia’s architectural landscape

Dec 04, 2023 | By Florence Sutton
CEO of Archicam, Unnpheng Puthvisal

Fresh from their recent triumph at the Luxury Lifestyle Awards, where Archicam secured the coveted title of Best Luxury Villa Architecture in 2023 for their extraordinary Khmer Farmhouse Villa project in Cambodia, LUXUO had the pleasure of sitting down with Unnpheng Puthvisal. As the visionary CEO of Archicam, he is at the forefront of transforming Cambodia’s architectural landscape, and today, he shares his insights and experiences with us.

Luxury Lifestyle Awards (LLA): Congratulations on winning the Best Luxury Villa Architecture award for the Khmer Farmhouse Villa. Can you tell us what inspired the design of this remarkable project?

Unnpheng Puthvisal (UP): I am immensely grateful for this amazing award. I also want to express my appreciation to the project owner, whose support was crucial in making this project a reality. The concept of the Khmer farmhouse is inspired by its very name. The owning family, who enjoys living close to nature, expressed a desire to incorporate Khmer culture into their living space. This desire aligns perfectly with the property’s expansive 2-hectare land. In the master planning phase, I focused on preserving the existing pond and trees, reshaping the pond into a round geometric shape to enhance the overall aesthetic. We fulfilled the family’s wish to merge Khmer culture with their passion for agriculture by incorporating a large rice field and various other crops into the design. The house itself features a sculpted wall that narrates the story of Cambodia’s agricultural lifestyle, highlighted by the distinctive Khmer roof—a signature element from ancient times that sets a Khmer house apart. This luxurious contemporary villa is designed with various features tailored to the owner’s needs.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: Archicam was established with a mission to showcase Cambodia’s modern architecture on the global stage. How has winning this award aligned with that mission?

U.P: Winning this award serves as both encouragement and a starting point for Archicam. It marks the beginning of a journey we undertake not alone, but alongside other architecture firms sharing similar goals and missions. Our collective aim is to contribute to the expansion of Cambodia’s architecture, bringing it to the global stage. Simultaneously, we strive to motivate local citizens to deepen their understanding and knowledge of architecture as a whole.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: Could you share some insights into the unique challenges faced while designing luxury villas in Cambodia, and how Archicam overcame them?

U.P: Indeed, each project presents its own unique set of challenges, stemming from its distinct concept. Overcoming these challenges requires a thorough understanding of the project, which enables the anticipation and pre-emptive addressing of potential issues. Additionally, continuously improving one’s skills and techniques is vital. For example, integrating the signature Khmer Roof, traditionally a thatched roof, into the Farmhouse Villa design posed a challenge due to feasibility concerns. Fortunately, modern alternatives now exist that replicate the appearance of thatch roofs while being safer and more practical for contemporary use, as they are both fireproof and waterproof.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: Your architectural firm places a strong emphasis on creativity and initiative from Khmer architects. How does this commitment to local talent contribute to the success of your projects?

U.P: From my perspective, architects commonly draw inspiration from their culture and history for their creative ideas and concepts. However, the ability to generate a new concept from an existing idea, while retaining the essence of the original inspiration, is crucial. At Archicam, as a Cambodian company, we are well-versed in incorporating Khmer architecture into our works. We strive to create new scenarios by modernizing and innovating in response to the evolving living conditions from one generation to the next.

LLA: Archicam’s portfolio includes a range of prestigious projects. Could you highlight one project that you believe has had a significant impact on Cambodia’s urban aesthetics?

U.P: I believe that all of Archicam’s projects significantly impact Cambodia’s urban aesthetics in some way. Although it may sound cliché, I am confident in this belief. The impact also depends on the nature of the project and its societal significance. For instance, the Khmer Farmhouse project, which spans 2 hectares, visibly enhances Cambodia’s urban aesthetic. Its master plan, which uniquely integrates Khmer culture and architecture into a modern setting, sets it apart in both local and international contexts.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: The Legion of Honor awarded by former and current kings reflects your exceptional contributions to Cambodia’s architecture. How has this recognition influenced your career and your approach to architecture?

U.P: Being honored by His Majesty is a true source of pride and honor for us. It serves as a reminder that this recognition is a result of our hard work and significant contributions to the field of architecture. This prestigious award acts as a powerful source of encouragement, motivating Archicam to strive even harder. Our goal is to enhance the prominence of Khmer Architecture on the global stage and to foster collaborations with international firms.

LLA: Sustainability is a growing concern in the architectural world. How does Archicam incorporate sustainable practices into its luxury villa designs?

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

U.P: Sustainable architecture has gained significant popularity and has been the subject of extensive discussion. This trend likely stems from society’s realization that our progress has often come at the cost of natural resources, leading to substantial pollution, especially in the construction sector. As a result, sustainability practices are now increasingly adopted to mitigate these impacts. At Archicam, we actively contribute to sustainable development by incorporating water elements, tree planting, and extensive green areas in nearly all our projects. Our commitment lies in preserving green spaces and designing buildings that utilize natural light and ventilation systems, aiming to conserve energy and reduce heat.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: In the realm of luxury architecture, clients often have unique and demanding requirements. How does Archicam ensure customer satisfaction while maintaining the integrity of your designs?

 U.P: Although each client has their own unique requirements and demands, as architects, we believe it is our job to guide them along the right path in fulfilling these needs. By earning their trust through our expertise and experience, it becomes our duty to enhance their understanding of their own requirements and how architecture can meet those needs. We are committed to providing the best services and quality possible. Collaborating as a team is crucial to the successful completion of each project.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: Looking ahead, what innovative trends or technologies do you see shaping the future of luxury villa architecture, and how is Archicam staying ahead of the curve?

U.P: Technology and the pursuit of the finest quality are pivotal in shaping the future of luxury villas. I believe that the key to advancing this sector lies in seamlessly combining technology and high-quality design in functional projects. This integration will define the next generation of luxury villas.

Khmer Farmhouse Villa

LLA: As the CEO of Archicam, you have a profound vision for the beauty of your city and country. Can you share your long-term aspirations for Archicam and its role in Cambodia’s architectural evolution?

U.P: As the CEO of Archicam and an architect, my goal is to collaborate with other dedicated Khmer architects to promote and showcase Khmer architecture on the global stage. The foundation of Khmer Architecture was laid by our senior architects in the 60s. It is imperative for us, as the next generation of Cambodian architects, to unite and expand the potential of Khmer Architecture. This can be achieved by conducting research, embracing innovation, and leveraging global advancements to further our architectural heritage.

Thank you, Mr. Puthvisal, for sharing your insights and experiences with us. 

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