Across South-East Asia, the explosion of construction is driving record demand for building materials to support the literal ascent of its cities. Bringing together the research on brick and sand, in Phnom Penh and then Singapore, this chapter looks up from their reclaimed land and skyscrapers to question the vertical urbanisms of global city-building. It grounds and embodies scholarly proclamations through the less visible lives of those bound in their making and ‘calls into question the universals of global urbanism’ through the fraught production of its material form. Cambodia is in the midst of a construction boom. Today, the construction boom continues unabated, buoyed in particular by an expanding demand for luxury gated complexes for Cambodian and foreign elite and low-cost housing for thousands of migrant workers in the garment and services sectors.