Construction industry building a better future for Cambodian families Share this article

A group of construction professionals, students and other volunteers have returned from their trip which will have a long term positive impact on some families in Cambodian. 

The culmination of over 18 months’ worth of work has seen Cundall’s Alistair Coulstock connecting with not-for-profit organisation RAWimpact, University of New South Wales (UNSW)  and volunteers from the construction industry to create the Collaborative Futures Cambodia Initiative.

In July 2013, students from the UNSW formed teams under the guidance of experienced architects and engineers to design houses for rural Cambodia. The students assessed energy use in developing countries and investigated passive and active solutions, assisted by the professionals and lecturers from UNSW. 

“Working with RAWimpact and Choam Trach village on a real project generated a great deal of enthusiasm amongst the students and provided invaluable practical project design experience. Students derived enormous value from working with architects and engineers”, explains Anna Bruce, Lecturer at the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, UNSW, “the feedback from the students has been excellent and the University are keen to repeat this next year”.

January 2014, saw 25 volunteers travel to Cambodia and bring the student’s ideas to life.  RAWimpact, organised a life changing trip which allowed the volunteers to understand the history of Cambodia, witness some of the extreme poverty and be involved in some of the amazing initiatives trying to tackle this. This included an orphanage, an innovative goat project and a bio-digester that provides clean cooking gas from cow dung. The group then headed to Kampong Thmar for the build.

The team built two new homes for two families most in need, replacing rotting, leaking and unsafe houses. The designs included, a separate kitchen area to reduce fumes in the main living area, a split roof to bring natural daylight and ventilation into the main living area and, much to the local children’s delight, a swing. 

“The families were so grateful for their new homes”, said Alistair, “this was a very humbling experience for the whole team”.

"It was a pleasure to work with the family and local builders on the homes. It was an inspiring and life changing experience for the whole team." Adds Emma Halo, UNSW Student.

To hear more about Alistair’s experience go to and to view a video go to

“On behalf of the whole team we offer a huge thank you to all who donated to the cause and made it happen. The donations are greatly appreciated and went a long way to helping those less fortunate than ourselves on a variety of projects” says Alastair.

The project could not have been made possible without Allen Jack + CottierCox Architecture, Kingspan, Rice Daubney, Sissons Architects and Wallis and Spratt Engineers.

20 Mar 2014

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