a new school in rural cambodia, designed and built pro-bono by weston williamson + partners alongside building trust international officially opened on international children’s day. BTi worked with WW+P, engenuiti and integration to design a building which was flexible and adaptable, meeting current and future needs. the school design comprises of three additional classrooms, a library and a covered external classroom with a play area, which doubles as a small amphitheater.

the teacher giving lessons in the external classroom



until now, the school in khyaung village, 40km north east of phnom penh has catered for 359 pupils aged 3-17 in two old buildings. according to weston williamson + partners and building trust internationalthe lack of accommodation has meant that children travelling from six surrounding villages to this, the area’s only school catering for children up to secondary age, had to attend in shifts, part-time. the new school’s innovative, cost-effective and low maintenance design maximises the use of external and internal spaces, incorporating traditional verandas to enable teaching and play in small groups. the classrooms open onto the central school yard area, whilst cross ventilation is maximised by the use of high level openings and using the bricks cavities to increase airflow.

inside the classroom at the khyaung school



the cross section and orientation of the school building responds to the local environmental conditions of the site, with the distinctive ‘top hat’ zinc roof form incorporating overhanging verandas which provide solar shading to the classroom walls to prevent overheating. these external covered spaces also provide a shaded area for smaller informal classes. the library opens onto the adjoining external covered space, which is central to the plan and offers a shaded and flexible space, providing a stimulating environment for learning and play. it also provides a community meeting space outside of school hours. 

the overhanging verandas provide solar shading to the classroom walls to prevent overheating



locally available materials have been used throughout, and the setting-out of the building has a direct relationship to the distinctive brick module of the region. the detailing and arrangement of the brick walls has been carefully considered to maximise cross ventilation while also providing variety and interest. the rhythm of the brick detailing to the library differs to that of the classrooms so as to allow great light levels internally and increase passive ventilation. 


khyaung school
video © buildingtrust


WW+P senior partner philip breese explains that ‘the school was designed in close collaboration with the local community and building trust international. it’s only the start of what we hope will be an on-going exchange of skills and ideas with our friends in khyaung village.’ a central aim of the project was to foster an on-going relationship with the local community in khyaung, allowing ideas to be shared and knowledge to be exchanged. to achieve this, the design was developed in close collaboration with the school allowing for skills sharing and brainstorming ideas with local contractors and the community.

brick detail on internal walls of the classroom

a central aim of the project was to foster an on-going relationship with the local community in khyaung

external view of school building

locally sourced materials have been used throughout the building process

students inside their new school classroom

brick detail

details of the green painted windows

courtyard sketch of school design

original render of the school by WW+P



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

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