Somebody asked me how does your average Khmer city house looks like. So then I scoured my miscellaneous Phnom Penh snapshots for some photos that might show how the usual houses in the city looks like.Please do excuse the hazy and tilting quality of the photos, most of these were taken while I was on the move or riding something.
typical Phnom Penh narrow flats…
Anyway, here’s what I’ve observed. Well off Khmers usually prefer to live in villas. Villas of gargantuan sizes are all around the city. I’m actually in love with a lot of fusion style French-Khmer villas but these are getting less and less now.
But ordinary Khmers usually live in flats. Narrow houses with several floors. I like this style coz its very practical. Majority of the flats here use the first floor as a commercial area. And the upper floors as living areas. It’s also noticeable that most Khmer houses in the city are running a business on their houses.
businesses on the ground floor, living quarters on the upper floors
Another thing I’ve noticed is that, many houses usually don’t have much furnishings on the first floor. Although yes, they are modernly furnished with modern furniture, still they are not much into creating a space as ‘living room’. Since these flats are narrow in width, the supposed living area usually doubles as parking area for their cars at night. Also, though living room sofas are now fast gaining popularity, a lot of Khmer houses still make use of day beds as lounging and sitting place.
massive gates, accordion doors..
A feature also of Khmer city houses are the massive gates they put around their properties. And the whole house is usually encompassed with metal bars which I think is great for security but I also have worries about fire hazards and lack of ventilation.
I did wonder before why lot sizes are very narrow in front but has a depth of about 12 – 20 meters. Apparently, this stems from the French who use to base real estate taxes on the width of the front. Makes sense to me now and come to think of it, lot sizes and narrow houses similar to these can also be seen in Vietnam right?