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HomeAsian NewsHow Phnom Penh Can Recapture Its Mid-Century Glory – The Diplomat

How Phnom Penh Can Recapture Its Mid-Century Glory – The Diplomat

The Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh was as soon as thought of the Jewel of Asia. “I hope, sooner or later, my metropolis will appear to be this,” Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, reportedly instructed his host, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, as he cruised alongside the capital’s elegant boulevards in a Mercedes convertible throughout his go to to Cambodia in April 1967.

Phnom Penh was based because the capital of the Cambodian kingdom in 1434 however was deserted a number of occasions earlier than being reestablished once more because the capital and middle of royal energy in 1865. Below the French protectorate (1863-1953), Phnom Penh was used as an experimental blueprint for French architects and engineers. The French planners fastidiously crafted a modernization plan for Phnom Penh by laying out roads, designing public buildings, and finding city areas by way of a radical evaluation of the town’s bodily traits.

Gazing at a map of Phnom Penh from the Sixties, one can’t ignore the order and the alignment that characterizes the road networks within the central a part of the town. A collection of almost-identical metropolis blocks are hugged by networks of small streets that run parallel between the boulevards and the primary streets, creating an order and a robust connectivity of roads, and a very good stream of visitors. The town’s extremely organized numbered road system and outlined hierarchy of city areas had been designed to combine the agricultural areas with the city because the boulevards and the primary roads stretched towards the outskirts.

The design not solely centered on highly-planned road networks but in addition took cautious consideration of different important city facilities, together with public parks, greenery, and supporting infrastructure. The streets had been geared up with broad sidewalks, and lined with bushes and candelabra streetlights. Networks of roads featured full-fledged programs of water provide, drainage, infrastructure, and electrical energy community.

The Period of City Sprawl

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Fashionable-day Phnom Penh is taking part in witness to a price of urbanization that may be greatest described as relentless. City sprawl and haphazard improvement alongside the town’s edges stretch out in all instructions. Uncountable numbers of condos, villas and housing initiatives are increasing the suburbs and exurbs to accommodate increasingly folks migrating to the town searching for higher alternatives.

Rural farmlands are being reworked into business and housing initiatives. Lakes and wetlands with ecological and hydrological significance are being crammed to fulfill the rising demand for land.

However, whereas these different subjects have been well-explored, a component of this sprawl that’s notably troubling, and largely ignored, is the planning – or lack thereof – of the brand new metropolis streets.

Taking a fowl’s-eye view of the fashionable map of Phnom Penh, focusing particularly on the outer districts west of the middle, we see that the community of streets is fragmented and patchy. These outer sections are utterly devoid of boulevards and primary streets, and the smaller streets lack connectivity with each other, leading to weak street connectivity between the outskirts and the downtown.

The possible trigger is that these streets had been constructed as an afterthought. Actual property builders who purchase land in these areas have a myopic concentrate on constructing housing and business areas, and solely contemplate the logic of the street placement after. The result’s that street programs in these areas exist purely to serve the accessibility of those particular person actual property initiatives, for apparent profit-based causes. This piecemeal mode of city improvement ends in a scarcity of broader public-facing street connectivity and coordination all through the sides of the town.

Nonetheless, Phnom Penh can change​ course and regain its order with correct city planning and implementation. One of many first and most vital steps to take is healthier road community planning.

The Significance of Road Community Planning

Road community design may affect the event of Phnom Penh in various essential methods. First, road community design determines the extent of visitors security, mobility, and transport effectivity throughout the metropolis. One examine analyzing the road networks of ASEAN cities has proven that road networks with longer road lengths and plenty of intersections have a tendency to advertise a greater stream of visitors because of the formation of a square-like construction with a excessive diploma of road connectivity. This enables commuters to journey quicker, extra safely, and extra effectively to their locations. Making use of these findings to Phnom Penh, we are able to perceive why these peripheral components of the town missing road density are extra susceptible to visitors disruption and congestion.

Second, road community design determines commuters’ habits and the alternatives they make round modes of transportation. A well-connected system of road networks makes streets extra accessible for strolling and biking. A examine on Phnom Penh’s road networks, drivability, walkability, and bikeability reveals that the road networks within the central districts are extra accessible to strolling and biking than the peripheral ones. Extra strolling and biking potential would result in much less car dependency, leading to much less congestion and fewer consumption of fossil fuels. Evidently, many Cambodian folks resolve to personal non-public autos not less than partly due to the town’s disconnected streets, lengthy distances, and unreliable public transport companies.

Third, road community planning can also be strongly linked to the financial actions of city areas. The examine on ASEAN cities indicated {that a} excessive diploma of road accessibility offers a lift to city enterprise actions. For example, companies which are positioned on extra interconnected road networks entice extra gross sales alternatives as these streets entice extra visits and through-traffic. Retailers positioned in disconnected areas with streets which are tougher to navigate pressure folks to go to these retailers solely with function, as a substitute by way of pure encounters.

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Given the significance of a well-executed road community, it’s vital to ask how Phnom Penh can get this important part of city planning again on observe.

The Problem of Enforcement  

It could be incorrect to say that Phnom Penh at the moment has no grasp plan for the town. On the finish of 2015, in collaboration with improvement companions, Metropolis Corridor issued Phnom Penh Land Use Grasp Plan 2035, offering broad strategic instructions for the capital.

How a lot the plan is definitely being carried out is one other query.

There’s some ambiguity concerning whether or not non-public builders seek the advice of the grasp plan earlier than planning to construct a undertaking. The general lack of enforcement and unclear building and actual property improvement insurance policies lead the town’s city improvement right into a devastating mixture of unlawful building websites and implementation loopholes because the capital continues to progress into an city mess. The shortage of enforcement and coordination in city planning have clearly taken an enormous toll on the town’s road networks, the planning of which falls among the many metropolis’s least-prioritized duties.

This clearly reveals how badly Phnom Penh wants an improved and up to date grasp plan. Such a plan should embody thoroughly-studied land use and zoning insurance policies with built-in sensible enforceability and well-designed road networks, and should contemplate the infrastructural and architectural identities of the town.

Maybe most significantly, any land or building allow granted to builders should be in strict compliance with the town’s land use grasp plan. Road networks can’t be an afterthought that observe profit-driven choices by actual property builders. Metropolis authorities should act to collaborate with, and monitor these initiatives on the outskirts to make certain that they adhere to the bigger imaginative and prescient for our city house.

If the established order continues unchecked, we shall be left with a tangled mess of disconnected streets, questioning how our metropolis misplaced its character and order. A extra coherent road community design alone will not be prone to repair all of Phnom Penh’s mounting issues. It’s, nevertheless, a important start line. Solely by specializing in this situation, by prioritizing long-term planning over the single-minded revenue wants of actual property builders, can we set up a stronger basis for the city improvement initiatives to observe.



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