The Ghost Settlement

In the way of data, many homes in Phnom Penh do not exist. They are like ghosts, present and absent at the same time. My architectural response is a commentary on this condition, an exercise in world creation and a negotiation of my interests in technological environments and improvisation in architecture.

In a speculated scenario Phnom Penh has become a dense corporate jungle. The remaining ghost inhabitants thrive in a limbo state, an infrastructure that harnesses wind, rain and tide to conceal itself in a cloud of artificial mist. My architecture mirrors the uncertainty of their forgotten lifestyle: ambiguous in its existence. It is defined by conjunctural spaces, ephemeral elements, and improvised performances.

The Ghost Settlement

Overhead view of the Settlement from a new Phnom Penh.

The Cardinal Tamagotchi

The genesis of the project: an environmental prototype that responds to wind direction. A digital compass informs the Arduino micro controller which direction the weather vane is pointing and the air pumps inflate the corresponding inflatable. Its heart beats slowly.

Hierarchy of Elements

-1: System of Mist Generation
0: The Skeleton
1: Ephemeral Housing
2: Field of Improvisation

Design Considerations

Inspiration is drawn from both the Cambodian vernacular and elements of DIY living.


Jute fabric is stretched between the steel bars to create a textured webbing. The skeleton allows harvesters to circulate the entire settlement.


An environmental prototype that harvests vacant houses to construct the Settlement gate.


The method of generating the artificial mist alternates seasonally between the use of rain water, wind and the tide.

Settlement Activity

Overview of some activities that take place in the Settlement.

View From River

A visualisation of the Settlement from Tonle Sap River during the monsoon season.