BANGKOK, Sept 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An award-winning design for factory worker housing in Cambodia’s capital will serve as a model for homes in other cities in the rapidly-urbanising country, according to the charity that will build 3,000 units based on the blueprint next year. 

The contest was hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of its strategy to encourage investment in sustainable development worldwide. 

The competition required designs for housing for workers and their families at a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the capital of Phnom Penh, which would “improve the quality of life of the intended residents”. 

In the SEZ, “options for high quality, affordable, safe housing are limited”, said David Cole, director of Britain-based Building Trust International, which will construct the homes based on the winning entry by India’s atArchitecture. 

“When construction of the winning design is complete, it should provide a precedent for similar affordable housing projects, which are needed to meet the growing demand in Phnom Penh and other cities in Cambodia,” he said. 

There are more than 17,000 workers in the Phnom Penh SEZ, with the number set to rise steadily as more people migrate from the countryside for jobs, according to the UNDP. 

The competition, backed by the UNDP’s SDG Impact Finance, tapped into the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals that aim to tackle the world’s most challenging problems, from halting deforestation to reducing child mortality. 


In Asia, impact investing is especially needed for low-cost housing in booming cities that are struggling to meet surging demand, forcing workers from Mumbai to Manila to sleep on pavements or rent squalid rooms.