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AI, new tech, and smart cities on table at EuroCham’s Tall Buildings Forum

Cambodia Investment Review

The real estate and construction sector was the largest contributor to Cambodia’s impressive pre-pandemic average growth rate of seven percent and after a cooldown in the sector, it is set to rise again.

Four years in the making, the European Chamber of Commerce’s Tall Buildings Forum will gather on Wednesday industry leaders at Sofitel to help map out Phnom Penh’s future skyline and plot a sustainable path forward for the sector.

EuroCham Deputy Director Tom Hesketh said: “We are excited to hold the Tall Buildings Forum again after a four-year hiatus. It’s a chance for us to digest the various changes in the industry since the pandemic and look toward the future.

“It’s a great opportunity for industry professionals to get together, learn from other experts, and share their thoughts on the future. We are excited to see everyone again in person and look forward to a fun day with fruitful discussions, plenty of networking, and a happy hour to unwind and cap it off,” he added.

EuroCham Deputy Director Tom Hesketh will give the welcoming remarks at the forum.

The all-day forum will feature a series of keynote speeches and panel discussions on legal updates in the sector, emerging tech and solutions, sustainability, and the challenges and risks associated with property management.

“Anyone in the construction industry should go, most prominently any developer executing a high-rise building in Cambodia. It will have industry leaders and people who are at the forefront of technology and engineering. If you’re a developer thinking of taking a piece of land and heading vertical, you should absolutely attend,” said Michael Freeman, the Asia operations leader for business consultancy COVA.

AI changing the game

Freeman, who helped plan the forum, said expert insights will be provided on building taller buildings with less concrete with the help of the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI).

Traditionally, architects would run through up to three scenarios when planning the construction of a building, but new AI-inspired software allows for infinite calculations to be run, allowing for maximum efficiency in design.

Michel Cassagnes will moderate a panel on Tall Buildings, Sustainability, and Resilient Cities.

Examples from around the world will be presented, proving what can be possible in Phnom Penh’s future if new software and building methods are utilized.

“That’s why people should come see what’s happening in the rest of the world. What’s the next step? We’ll see what we should be doing and what we can be doing,” he said.

Simon Griffiths, the managing director at The Mall Company said, said some of the major trends attendees can expect to learn about at the forum are the transformation of retail resulting from the explosion of food and grocery delivery apps and the rise of “condotels” due to oversupply in the residential and condo sectors. Condotels, he described, are buildings offering cheaper nightly rates without all the bells and whistles expected from a hotel.

Problem-solving property management

Griffiths, who will moderate a panel on the opportunities and challenges of property management, said his most pressing concern was enforcing service charges at properties. He said this created unreasonable risk for property management companies, as no stakeholder in developed buildings appears to be willing to pay for the general upkeep of properties, something that can create long-term hazards.

Ratanak Siv, the senior manager of property management at Urban Land, will speak on this panel and said property management is facing several issues, from a shortage of qualified staff to balancing resident needs with internal procedures.

He said tall building design would benefit from more input by managers, especially concerning communal areas and the more technical aspects that can benefit the smooth operation of a building.

“I think property managers should be involved from the first stage of building design because nobody knows how buildings function better than property managers, from the required storage space, the management office, to the practicality of certain types of finishes that designers or developers lack.”

Speakers include:

  • Secretary of State at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction H.E. Dr. Pen Sophal
  • Director-General of Construction at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction H.E. Dr. Chhann Sorphal
  • Chairman of the EuroCham Real Estate and Construction Committee and Managing Director of Archetype Cambodia Mr. Michel Cassagnes
  • Vice-Chairman of EuroCham Real Estate and Construction Committee and CEO of Worldbridge Sport Village Dr. Simon Vancliff
  • Vice-Chairman of EuroCham Real Estate and Construction Committee and lawyer at the Paris Bar Mr. Charles Amar
  • Managing Director at CBRE Mr. Lawrence Lennon

Tickets are $50 for EuroCham members and $70 for non-members, with lunch, coffee breaks, and cocktails provided. To learn more about these topics, register for the Tall Buildings Forum here.

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