Their amazing construction and artistic skills have been used to create scaled-down versions of Angkorian temples and European castles as well as a luxurious underground room with a natural Jacuzzi and furniture intricately carved from the surrounding earth.
They’ve not only created these incredible buildings surrounded by wilderness, but their talent has also drawn the applause of nearly 1.5 million subscribers on their Youtube channel “Building Technology” as well as a “gold creator” award from the giant online video sharing platform.
Three years ago a former teacher, Peanh Setha, became a designer and online video creator, forming two Youtube channels – Leurt Wilderness with 30 videos and 74.4k subscribers and Building Technology with 99 videos and 1.49 million subscribers.
Setha teamed up with his brother-in-law Tann Molly, a designer and IT professional.
“Our purpose is to earn some income to support the livelihoods of local people and show their work to the world, entertain the audience and participate in sharing cultural works widely,” Setha says.
One day, the two discovered the poor but talented builders living in Roka Kambot village in Trapeang Thom Commune of Prasat Bakong district in Siem Reap.
“We’ve never studied architecture, construction or art. We just see things and get inspired to do our version. And the builders are talented and know how to build and carve mud and clay from observing other skillful people,” said Setha.
Having worked humbly in the forest for a couple of years, their videos documenting the creation of their mud and clay kingdom went viral last year. Their first building site became a hot domestic tourist attraction last year despite the industry struggling to survive due to the pandemic.
The peak period of visitors coming to see their mud and clay structures was during the Pchum Ben festival in September 2020.
Their most astonishing work is a royal chamber fit for a king that is dug into the ground and has a small pool in the middle of it. It took them about 130 days to build it. “The design of the house is a mix of Khmer style and some modern styles. Like a bed in the Khmer style, but with a modern fashion sofa. The walls are carved to look like bricks decorated with flowers or designed to look like cabinets. The basement includes a swimming pool to represent the modern 21st-century luxury home,” according to the team.
These model structures are made with technical precision and the layout and planning are done before any construction. This work was done in collaboration with a team of assistants and volunteers as well as a total of three photographers. The construction is accomplished without any machinery at all, just tools like shovels.
However, after 3 years of working together to build stunning buildings from mud and clay, the challenge of long-term preservation of their work remains. A complex structure could take months to finish but might only last a year afterward.
“We want to make all of the buildings last longer, so we’re trying to find ways to protect them from the rain,” Setha says.
Their hard work was acknowledged by the authorities who allowed them to relocate to a new area in the community forest reserve with five hectares of land to work with. The team hopes to be able to open it to visitors after the spread of Covid subsides.
“Now that we have the support of the local authorities we can build here without any worries, Molly says.
According to phnompenhpost.com