Known to challenge the boundaries of architecture and urban design, Hok Kang has carved out his name in the emerging industry
For the 5th PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards, the editors of the PropertyGuru Property Report magazine will be honouring Hok Kang, the managing director of Urbanland Asia, as the Cambodia Real Estate Personality of the Year for his groundbreaking developments that have raised the bar when it comes to building quality and design standards in the country.
Among his outstanding projects, two of which, namely, Embassy Residences and Embassy Central, garnered accolades at the 2016 PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards. His impressive design philosophy has also made it onto the international limelight, having been featured immensely across leading publications, such as Forbes, Condé Nast Traveler, Monocle and Wallpaper*.
In the 2019 year-end issue of PropertyGuru Property Report magazine, the editorial team covered Treeline Urban Resort, an art-focused design resort that aims to highlight Khmer creativity by hosting art exhibitions throughout the year and featuring artists’ work within the entire development, all the while maintaining high hospitality standards.
When asked about the design concept, he said: “We don’t have preconceived ideas when we set out to design. We work, we analyse, we experiment. We strive to conceive spaces that are not only beautiful but are also a catalyst for change.”
His drive to challenge the boundaries of architecture and urban design started when he was young. He shared that he grew up in a traditional shophouse in Phnom Penh where there wasn’t a lot of space and parking motorbikes in the living room was a norm.
“[We] made do as best we could with the space we had. I was very lucky in my upbringing, and had very supportive parents, but I knew even then that we could and should do better in a dynamic urban environment like Phnom Penh to create spaces where families can thrive and share all the happiness and challenges that life brings,” explained Hok Kang.
“That really is what keeps driving me – the ambition that Cambodians from all backgrounds should be able to live in buildings designed with their needs in mind rather than adapt their lives to the buildings they inhabit,” he added.
Fast forward years later, with his passion driving him forward, he took up a degree in Architecture and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. He then had his internship at Kengo Kuma and Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects in Tokyo, Japan.
Shortly after his return to Phnom Penh in 2009, he established the now thriving chain of chic coffee shops Brown Coffee, where he currently serves as the Partner and Principal Architect. A year later, he launched his own architecture and design practice HKA & Partners, which allowed him to ‘create environments that harmoniously blend Cambodian design and art into supremely functional and comfortable places.’
By 2013, he partnered with ISI Group to set up design-led development firm Urbanland Asia that is focused on constructing ‘distinctive and inspirational spaces designed around the needs of their users and their environment.’
Compelled by his unique people-centred approach, he developed Mekong Homes, an affordable housing project that enables people residing in the rural areas to live a more dignified lifestyle.
His firm’s latest ventures include a mixed-use business and lifestyle hub in Veng Sreng, complete with an office, retail and residential space, as well as parks and green spaces. They are also currently working on a new borey-style development of landed properties in the south of Phnom Penh. This major project reimagines traditional boreys to provide ideal homes for Cambodia’s middle class. “We’ve adopted a people-centred approach to really listen and discover what our customers want from their home, to design it from the inside out,” said Hok.
“To many people in Cambodia, buying and owning a home is their ultimate goal in life, so we are committed to create homes that suit their needs and aspirations.”
Hok Kang will be received the Cambodia Real Estate Personality of the Year award at the fifth annual PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards on 4 September 2020 at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra in Phnom Penh.
The 5th PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards 2020 is supported by platinum sponsor Hitachi Elevators and Escalators; gold sponsor CBRE Cambodia; silver sponsors Jotun and CAMBC; official magazine PropertyGuru Property Report; media partners Construction & Property, Southeast Asia Globe, Siemreap.net, and BizKhmer; official PR partner Two Way PR; official charity partner Right To Play; and official supervisor BDO.
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