Cambodia House on Boeng Keot


But Does It Float? - In Search of Praxis 2.0

Monday 15 – Monday 29 July 2019

Six months in a year, the southwest monsoon drenches Cambodia with torrential downpour.  Central to the ideological and physical manifestation of Khmer culture is the ability to evade, absorb, and rise above murky waters.  This year we will investigate water as a primary source of sustenance and influence for both Angkorian craftsmen and Khmer modernist architects. We will continue our search for Praxis - the manner in which architects are engaged with the world. From tracing the anthropocene along Mekong River to gliding in palm tree canoes documenting vernacular stilt houses, we will journey through water. Working with three scales, the body, the house and the city, we will use the two-week workshop to build a structure that sail through Takeo. Departing from land, architecture confronts gravity with buoyancy.  We will repurpose local materials and challenges local construction methods; play a vital role in hosting the summer festivities. But, does it float?

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

Re/search – We will work in groups to develop a personal design brief within the local context.
Design – Through photography, hand-drawings and model making, we will test how architectural knowledge can be communicated and translated into 1:1 maquettes
Situate – We will make a day trip to Phnom Penh and see the most important modern architecture of Cambodia by Vann Molyvann. Pen Sereypagna, Director of the Vann Molyvann Project, will take us on a walking-tour through his work.
Make – We will work closely with local workshops and craftsman to materialise our designs. Juggling between the role of a client, architect and laborer we search for the unique design potential latent within each position.   
Celebrate – Thnout Village School will be our workshop and site where we share our projects with the students and their families. Our interventions will be a celebration of how the pursuit of education and design can bring communities together.


1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email for instructions to pay by bank transfer. 

2) A CV and one drawing / image of your work is required. Please send these through to

3) Once you have submitted your image and CV, complete the online application and make a full payment to register onto the programme.

The deadline for applications is 30 June 2019.

All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.


Phsa Takao Village, Rokakhung Commune, Dunkeo District,Takeo Province, Cambodia.

Please note: We will arrange transportation once you landed Phnom Penh International Airport. Please give us your flight details once confirmed or let us know your alternative mode of transport.


The AA Visiting School requires a course fee of £595 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.

Fees do not include flights or accommodation. All participants will need to make a contribution of £250 towards food and accommodation in Takeo (to be paid directly to the Programme Heads upon arrival).

Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen at the workshop.


The workshop is open to current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and young professionals. We accept students with a background in art or design and must enjoy collaboration and teamwork.


James Mak is the Founder and Chairperson of Project Little Dream (PLD), a charity that designs, builds and runs primary schools in Cambodia since 2009. With a strong belief that architecture is a fundamental agent in a developing context, his researches in vernacular spaces in post-conflict Cambodia. He currently teaches part-time in Diploma 1 of the AA. He has a background in human geography and architecture, and was educated in the London School of Economics and the AA where he obtained his BA(Hons) and AA Diploma.

Alison Cheng is an Executive Director for Project Little Dream (PLD).  She develops educational and architectural projects in the rural Cambodia, ranging from libraries and sanitation facilities to installations and product design.  Alison is educated at the Architectural Association and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and currently work in London.

Collaborators: Project Little Dream; Vann Molyvann Project; Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh.



Programme Heads
James Mak
Alison Cheng

Head of Visiting School

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

Links & Downloads


Programme site

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Visiting School Prospectus


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