Cambodia’s sturdy economic growth in recent years has seen a marked increase in the number of multinational companies establishing offices in Phnom Penh. Other fast-growing organisations have also added to the demand for office spaces around town with modern designs, services and amenities.
Raintree is Cambodia’s first boutique office development, located directly across the side street from the Canadia Tower and boasting over 3,000 square metres of total office space spread over five floors to accommodate more than 30 organisations. It was co-founded by Malaysian-English entrepreneur Zoë Ng and local architect Hok Kang and opened in August of this year after just 12 months of construction.
Ng, who spent her formative years in Kuala Lumpur and Bath in the UK, received an MA in Linguistics and Arabic from the University of Edinburgh and was also a research student at the University of California, Berkeley. The 30-year-old went on to be a consultant at Mckinsey & Company, worked on consumer goods and branding at Google, and was part of the founding team at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty.
The Raintree managing director shares with us her experiences in Cambodia, the exclusive features available for their office tenants and her hopes for the development of the area and the sector:
When did you first come to Cambodia and what have you done here prior to setting up Raintree?
I first came to Cambodia over ten years ago to do non-profit work in technology and education. It was a serendipitous project as I felt a surprisingly immediate connection to the country and knew I wanted to do further work here.
My co-founder and I then led an arts education project with SEALNet (South East Asian Leadership Network) in 2008. The focus was a performing arts production, in collaboration with a wide range of arts organisations, including the Royal University of Fine Arts, Amrita, Trey Visay, Tiny Toones and Cambodia Living Arts. Before moving here permanently two years ago, I was always back and forth doing various smaller projects, mostly in education.
Why did you decide to open a boutique office development, and who else is involved in the venture?
Raintree was a project that was born out of a commercial need for a different kind of workspace, a shared passion for design, and a consciousness to contribute to our professional and wider community. My co-founder is Hok Kang, who has his own architecture practice as well as famously designing the interiors of Brown Coffee. He also has a development firm called Urbanland Asia with two luxury condo projects – Embassy Residences and Embassy Central.
When we were both setting up our offices a few of years ago, we struggled to find space that fit our organisations’ needs and culture. I have also been lucky to work at some amazing offices like Google, and thought why couldn’t we create similar quality spaces here in Cambodia. So we decided to build Raintree!
What have been your biggest challenges in the construction of Raintree and what are you most proud of?
All construction projects are challenging! Particularly in Cambodia, there is still a need for greater infrastructure and quality workmanship in all areas of construction. We were lucky to work with some great local contractors, and I am most proud that we managed to design and build end-to-end in 12 months, maintaining a clean and safe working site throughout the build.
What types of clients are you hoping to attract, and who have signed up for office space already?
We hope to house tenants from a diverse set of industries, but especially those with a more progressive approach to workspace, who value their teams’ working environments and bring something to the professional community here.
Of course we encourage tech, media and creative industries, as we feel our space is particularly designed to fit their organisational needs. We have a number of global tenants in consumer goods, as well as Microsoft’s first office in Cambodia, plus creative tenants like Alchemy Design Co. in sustainable furniture and local printing house Nova Design – even a couple of non-profit organisations like Happy Football and Teach for Cambodia.
What are the major advantages of renting office space at Raintree?
We hope the professional community that we are starting to build benefits all organisations at Raintree. This could be either through direct synergies, or just working amongst like-minded individuals and organisations that share in their respective growth.
In more tangible terms, the workspace design is open-plan, very green and slightly industrial, which provides a more creative type of space in Phnom Penh currently. We tried to design for organisations to have the most efficient workspace, by providing facilities like pantries, the terrace and flexible meeting areas outside of their respective offices. The complementary retail downstairs also means everything is at your doorstep. Overall, we hope the space allows all organisations to work happier, healthier and ultimately be more productive.
How do you think the area surrounding Raintree will develop in the coming years?
With the heart of the banking district on Preah Ang Duong Blvd/Kramuon Sar St (Street 110/114), this area will naturally develop as the prime commercial location in Phnom Penh, with a number of notable high-rise projects already under construction. The vicinity will have a lot more retail and office space, as well as infrastructure like public parking. I really hope we will see further development of public spaces like parks that are so important to the urban landscape and local community.
What are your hopes for the future of Raintree? Do you have any plans for developments or expansion?
We really hope Raintree continually fosters a strong professional community, supporting activities and programmes across a number of areas including professional development, education, entrepreneurship, technology, arts and health through The Canopy – a flexible event space on the top floor. The project aims to demonstrate that workspace is an important part of an organisation’s growth, and we’d be very happy if we helped to show this in some small way.