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Since the late twentieth century, and faster again since the beginning of XXI century, the cultural and traditional values change at the rhythm of financial markets and the globalization of ideas and clichés. The countryside is emptying, families migrate to the city, hoping to find employment and stability. Poor and often illiterate, these new city dwellers settle at the outskirts of cities and in some informal settlements in the capital.
The tropical climate of Cambodia knows only two seasons: the dry season when the shade is sorely lacking and the rainy season which fills lakes, plains, and causes flooding. Khmer Vernacular architecture consists of a simple bamboo cabin, ephemeral and constantly changing. Built on stilts or floating to stay afloat during the rainy season, it meets the needs of the Cambodian country life.
Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia where 410 communities are haphazardly installed today. They are aware of their situation (they live below the national poverty line) and worried about their future, happily they remain extremely welded. This appropriation of land is sometimes dating from the end of the Khmer Rouge, it has never been regulated, and today many of these new city dwellers can not prove their ownership. The Government therefore considers them illegitimate.
The pressures of foreign investors and corruption force the federal government to some major modification on the urban pattern of Phnom Penh. The hope in economic growth enhanced by the power of Western capitalism is pushing the government to accept huge commissions without study or long term urban project. Thus, for example, entire lakes are buried under the sand in order to create space in a dense city centre.
Some families evicted from their district find themselves over 30km from the city centre, in plots of 100m² delimited by red bricks where there is no work and no free land to cultivate. Sometimes wife and children remain in the country while the head of the family goes to live in town. But often these plots “offered” by the government are sold to real estate speculators. The family then settled in a slum again, closer to the city, hoping to find a job, and in order to stay together.