Hongkong Land tower moves on to next phase

The 20-storey building in Phnom Penh’s emerging financial district promises to bring ‘Hong Kong panache’ to the Cambodian capital

Hongkong Land’s 20-storey tower project in Phnom Penh’s rapidly emerging financial district has progressed to its next phase of works, having completed its basic foundations, with bored piles and what is known as a diaphragm wall.

A diaphragm wall is a supporting structure put in place to hold the surrounding earth in place while the foundations for a building are built.

The project broke ground on September 6 last year. The first-phase 30,000-square-metre building will feature a 20-storey tower, with 16 floors of Grade-A office space, a four-floor podium for retail outlets and four levels of basement car parking. The grand opening is scheduled for 2017. A further two phases, with a total of 92,000 square metres of office and retail space and a hotel, will follow in later years.

Having completed the diaphragm wall and bored piles in May, the project has progressed to the next phase of work, which is ELS (excavation and lateral support). The next phase will require the removal of 92,000 cubic metres of earth from the site, says Daniel Parkes, general manager of Hongkong Land, Premium Investments Ltd, which is the project developer.

“Hongkong Land has employed experienced professionals, consultants and contractors to ensure that the development is built to the highest international standards, setting a new benchmark for quality in Cambodia,” he says.

Hongkong Land expects the foundation works to be completed at the end of 2014, while the main contract of works will get under way in 2015.

Explaining the foundation work so far, Parkes says: “There are stabilising bars holding back the diaphragm wall, and columns that reach down more than 50 metres to the bedrock. When you’re done with the foundation work, you knock out the stabilising bars.”

The foundation work is being overseen by Korean-headquartered construction company POSCO E&C, with global engineering specialists ARUP serving as structural engineers, and WT Partnership and ACH Management working as project quantity surveyors.

According to Parkes, the Hongkong Land project in Phnom Penh has a total of 292 bored piles. Test piles were equipped with sensors that signalled when the bedrock had been hit.

“One-metre diameter piles have 2.5 times load capacity,” says Parkes, adding that such a stringent standard is essential to establishing the structural integrity of the completed building.

“Our number one priority is safety and quality,” says Kit Freeman, project construction director of Hongkong Land in Cambodia. “There are certainly challenges in any given construction project, but the resources and professionalism of Hongkong Land enables us to achieve successful outcomes.”

Hongkong Land has acquired three prime sites in Phnom Penh. The first of the sites it is developing, according to Parkes, will bring knowledge, experience and technical expertise drawn from the group’s 125 years’ heritage in the industry.

Founded in 1889, Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd owns and manages almost 800,000 square metres of prime office and luxury retail property in key Asian cities, principally in Hong Kong and Singapore. Tenants across the properties include Standard Chartered Bank, DBS Bank, JP Morgan, Barclays, UBS, Ernst & Young and a collection of embassies and international organisations. Incorporated in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange, with secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore, Hongkong Land is a member of the Jardine Matheson Group.

According to Parkes, Hongkong Land takes a long-term view on Phnom Penh.

“We have significant investments here and we see many drivers of long-term growth,” says Parkes. “Cambodia is doing what Thailand did 25 years ago, what Vietnam did 15 years ago, and we want to be part of that.”

Parkes adds that other than strong GDP, Hongkong Land sees inflation as under control, a young demographic, and a rising middle class – all of which are positive factors for investors in Cambodia. “Hongkong Land setting a standard involves two major elements – quality of construction, a mix of international professionals and home-grown talent. We design and construct buildings all over Asia, and we’re bringing that level of management to Cambodia,” says Parkes.

“Basically, you’re going to see Hong Kong style and panache, with office, retail and serviced apartments.”

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