Mobile Lotus


LOCATION: Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

SUMMARY: Mobile Lotus is a floating platform that integrates a family clinic, health education and play spaces, servicing local communities inhabiting Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake. It highlights the health of both the village communities and ecosystem of this UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere, one of Cambodia’s most precious resources.

PROBLEM SPACE: “Basic human needs consist of food, water and shelter. The Tonle Sap Lake supports these needs for the many living there. However, pollution, contamination and overfishing have started to damage the balance of this precious and shared resource, affecting the health of its inhabitants.

The health of the communities whose livelihood relies on the lake can be improved by increasing awareness and education on common illness prevention, basic sanitation and hygiene practices, as well as providing a good understanding of how these principles can improve the ecology and fisheries.

According to the UN Water Facts and Trends, 80% of diseases in developing countries are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, and 8.5% of annual deaths in Southeast Asia are caused by diarrhoea. Consequently, there is a need to provide far-reaching knowledge on good sanitation practices and health services to the lakeäó»s inhabitants.

Mobile Lotus is designed to address these issues by increasing access to essential services at the most isolated villages on the lake. In doing so, knowledge and understanding of these easily preventable health issues can be much more widespread, resulting in improved conditions to address the health concerns of many people.”

SOLUTION: “Our approach aligns to our philosophy that design must serve a cause and is rooted in research and strategy. Having identified a critical situation unfolding on the Tonle Sap, our solution seeks to maximise the wellbeing of communities within acceptable cultural mores, while minimising negative environmental impact. The chosen strategy aims to develop a long-term, resilient environment for lake inhabitants with a sustainable, cost-, resource- and architecturally-effective solution sensitive to the traditions of Cambodian lake dwellers.

Inspired by the recurring geometric systems of Cambodia’s historical public spaces and the stability of Fuller’s domed structures, our intent is to build a mobile floating platform that accommodates beneficial medical and social facilities capable of reaching isolated rural communities.

Built of locally available materials that are easy to maintain and assemble, the platform comprises treatment rooms and dispensaries, as well as education/play spaces that double up as a public space for communities to congregate in.

By introducing the concepts of personal and water sanitation, waste treatment, and disease prevention through either visual or kinesthetic learning methods, communities can recognise the causes of polluted water and its remedies, thereby transforming them from passive to active participants.”

[email protected]
[email protected]

UPDATE (2018): Recently the Mobile Lotus team hosted a design and build workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 30 students from the Royal University of Fine Art Phnom Penh, the University of South Australia and the Glasgow School of Art Singapore participated in order to test the design problems presented by the Mobile Lotus by constructing a pilot mock-up of the structure. Participants explored areas such as culture, logistics, materials, structure and the floating system. The aim of this workshop was to be well prepared the final construction.

We have prepared and attached a summary of the process and experiences of the workshop. We hope you find the document engaging and that this exciting update to the Mobile Lotus project can be shared with the wider BFI community.