Multinational consumer goods company Unilever opened their new, ‘green’, headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Khan 7 Makara district on November 12, indicating a trend in purpose-built office buildings in Cambodia.
Multinational firm Archetype was contracted to design the headquarters within Unilever’s color and programming guidelines, and Unilever also went out to local tender, according to Maks Mukundan, managing director for Unilever Indochina.
The new office design incorporates green and sustainable features such as incorporating as much natural light as possible, using energy-saving air-conditioning units, louvers for heat management and an open-plan interior.
“It’s a linked office. There aren’t separate offices or cabins; it’s a very open plan. You can see through the whole office, it enables vitality, interaction and for people to connect to each other,” said Mukundan.
According to Archetype’s architectural design director Michel Cassagnes, the market for office spaces in general is only just emerging.
“It’s not a mature market in Cambodia,” he said, adding that when Archetype does consult on office plans, their designs are oriented toward sustainable and green solutions.
“We’re members of the US Green Building Council and the one in Vietnam,” said Cassagnes. “For us there’s no question, green and sustainable design is for the future, for our children,” he added.
Ryan O’Sullivan, CBRE’s Agency and Professional Services Manager, agrees that demand for dedicated office space in Cambodia is increasing.
“The reasons for increasing demand are two-fold. First you’ve got new multi-national companies (MNCs) coming into Cambodia and then you’ve got existing companies here expanding,” he said.
According to O’Sullivan, spaces that are 100 to 200 square metres are in particularly high demand among the MNCs when they initially come to Cambodia, and they generally expand within one to two years.
Once an office space is secured, O’Sullivan said design is generally driven by where the focus is coming from. “If the organization is more Asian-run, it’s more multi-partitioned offices, whereas if it’s more Western, it’s more open plan,” he said.
Office spaces that have green and sustainable features are in demand as organizations increasingly become concerned with corporate social responsibility, said O’Sullivan.
As for the employees themselves, Mukundan said Unilever’s Cambodian employees are enjoying their new office space, “The first thing I heard was on Facebook, ‘new office photographs!’ so they’re really thrilled.”