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YeonHui-Dong is a village where has been a living area for conservative upper-middle class from the late sixties. It settled on a slow slope from northwestern long and low hillside. The front garden of each houses are leveled up one floor higher than the front street. A block is composed with six or eight lots each of them are about 330m2.

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In Korea, people dream about having a large garden at the front of the house. YeonHui-Dong’s overall village layout is the clearest evidence of this desire. In consequence, most of the houses have neighboring houses on three sides with 2 meters wide outdoor corridors with a low wall in the middle. This typical arrangement has determined the homogeneous shape of the village.

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My client had four children of 1,3,5,7 years old when came to me to ask the commission and now the children became 3,5,7,9 years old. He is a successful business man over 40. He wanted to give a room to each child and his own private room safe from children to stay quite sometimes because after the completion of house he was supposed to spend more time to work from home.

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On my first visit to the site, I strongly felt the decades old stubborn positioning problem. So I decided to give a cross shape plan having four different yards of different roles each. Then unexpected distant views appeared and nearing old gardens were opened. Narrow and useless outdoor corridor in between buildings disappeared.

Positioning the kitchen between two lager yards permitted easy supervising of children playing in both yards expanding visual spaciousness of kitchen. On the long and thin yard I put the stair to approach to the entrance. To the last cozy yard I shared a hidden room for the client. Opened to four diagonal ends, the layout brought me a new problem. How to deal with the periphery.

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On three sides facing neighboring houses, there were low walls of slightly different heights around 1.2m. 1.8m’s height was good to cover the walls and to keep the privacy. As material I chose metal wire mesh of 4 cm grid. Easily rusting nature of metal wire-mesh and its transparency seemed good if Mr. Kim would agree to the rust metal for his fence .

He agreed. People were stupefied of how Mr. Kim accepted with such an easiness. On the building sides of facing fences, instead, I used 4cm wide thin metal plate with 4cm distance. This row of metal plates must show and hide the concrete structure of house. The height must match to that of fence. For the underground level facing the street, I showed the concrete structure of the building.

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Having neighbors so close, to guarantee a privacy of bedrooms the volume of the second floor must have been closed. Pitched roof gives spaciousness to the closed volume reminding other roofs of village and of distant hill. Two top lights are soaring up to the sky keeping inclinations of the roof. They are not so visible from outside but are dramatic from inside. Seen from above, they adds a subtle skyline to the village.

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I wanted use material which has paradoxical quality of differentiating and harmonizing for the second floor. The copper material which is different from other two metal materials used in ground floor, it’s clear cut finishing with light reflecting surface will fade very slowly in time matching to the red bricks of adjacent houses.

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Lastly the roof is enveloped with black asphalt sheet. This is to high light the hidden concrete structure visible on the street level but hides the structure on the first floor. I used three different kinds of metals in this house hoping that each one with precise role. Three different time of ripe , thus three different way of answering to the context being honest to its nature.

Written by Jean Son

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Architects : ISON Architects Location : Seoul, South Korea Design Team : Jean Son, Lee byung chul Construction : C&O ENC Area : 331.0 sqm Project Year : 2014 Photographs : JongHo Kim

ISON ARCHITECTS last 18 years since 1997, founded by I Min and Son Jin, studied and worked in Italy. ISON focused on the meaning and potentialities of urban context that small building remains, through series of kindergarten projects in early days. Outcomes were recognized and the studio won the Kim Swoo Geun Prize in 2008.

ISON Architects

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Located in a calm low mountainside overlooking the Bugaksan Mountain, the site reflects both the patina and generic modernity of Gwangwhamun, the historic center in Seoul. The client, a retiring professor, and honorable scholar decided to demolish the deteriorating old house and build a new memorable home for post-retirement years.

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It was not an easy decision for the client to demolish the 50-year-old house, built by her own father. The old house accrued character as a peaceful shelter and joyful childhood playground. After years of hesitation, the client decided to tear down the structurally defective house. After three days of demolition, the remains of the wood flooring, window lattice work, and door plates were transferred to the client to preserve those embedded memories.

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A few plan sketches were provided by the client at the start of the commission. The naïve unprofessional drawings, out of scale with distorted proportions, represented the subtle yet detailed thoughts about a new home filled with the nostalgia of the old house. A house is not a space for an architect’s egoistic expression, but a place for commemorating yesterday, living the present, and dreaming of tomorrow. Thus, the architect’s role seemed to impose an order on the client’s drawings with respect and honor.

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The nine-square grid, 3 kahn x 3 kahn in East Asia, has been a fundamental typology in architecture, both traditional and modern. The part of the Cheongun Residence was structured as nine-square grid in its spatial conception with symmetry and centricity. Conceptualized as modest but abstract ideal space, the nine-square grid diagram was developed into a concrete spatial structure with programs and functions.

Cheongun Residence is planned to function both as private residence and as research institute. The parlor at the core of the nine-square grid integrates programmatic functionality with spatial spirituality. The void of the parlor continues through the mezzanine of second floor to arrive at the light well of the roof, imbuing warm natural light and tranquil air deep into the center of the residence.

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The nine-square grid was applied horizontally in plan and vertically in section as regulating geometry. The void space at the core centers an axis that compresses the public realm into the center while disseminating private space to the periphery. The spatial density is maintained in equilibrium by this centralized organization, both centripetal and centrifugal.

The parlor between the kitchen area and the guest room on the ground floor maintains the balance between servant and served space. The circulation from the foyer to the rooftop tearoom occurs through the central void space, to generate rhythmic sequences compressing and releasing spatial tensions.

The void on the second floor mediates between personal life and scholarly life via the symmetrical order between the master bedroom and library. The light well on the third floor is situated at the concentric center of tearoom, the centroid of the third floor plan. This tea room has a concentric square geometry in plan and section that becomes the spatial, iconographic centricity of the house. The compression of the space by the solid light well tube harmonizes with the spatial release through the horizontal windows.

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For a scholar dedicated to education and research, centralized organization of the house represents the essentiality and directionality of life. Concrete, calm, and enduring patina materials were selected for the central structure. Brick becomes the counterpart for the exterior cladding, balancing the tranquility with warm vitality and subtle rhythms. Recycled bricks were used as wall cladding for the exterior walls, conservatory area, and veranda to mediate the transition between exterior and interior

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To deal with the spiritual aspect of materiality, the arch was chosen as the conceptual and structural technique. An arch in a form of a vault guides visitors through the foyer to the parlor. At the central void of parlor and living room, two consecutive arches add a series of filters to maintain a temperate and calm atmosphere. Arches of the living room, conservatory, and veranda frame the garden landscape and protect the central space from the harsh weather. The Cheongun Residence is located in the most historic district of Seoul, which involves the paradoxical coexistence of traditional, colonial, and contemporary architectural scenes. An arch may be the metaphoric interpretation of coexistence, preserving collective memories of the neighborhood’s patinated materiality

The frontality of the Cheongun Residence arises from the centralized organization, symmetric order, and contextual relationships of the house. The north wall of the house, perceived as podium, includes the rhythmic and symmetrical placement of a canopied porch and two vehicle entrances. The symmetricity becomes obvious at the receded north elevation, with a central axis between the main entrance and the arch window of the staircase on top. The south elevation facing the main garden has a semi-symmetrical order with a series of arch windows. The frontality and symmetricity of the house is a clear manifestation of the centralized organization and proportioned programs, ultimately resulting in a state of tranquil equilibrium harmonizing the complexities and contradictions inherent in life.

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Architects : Hyundai Kim, Tectonics Lab Location : Cheongun-dong, South Korea Architect in Charge : Hyundai Kim (Ewha Womans University) Design Team : Sukyung Kim, Dasom Kim Area : 313.1 m2 Project Year : 2017 Photographs : Kyungsub Shin Manufacturers : Eagon, Alto, Sehwa Brick Structural Engineer : Millennium Structure General Contractor : Nature and Environment Inc.

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Tectonics Lab pursues a transdisplinary, integral approach to architecture and urbanism. Our research-based methodology embraces practice with theory, materialization with philosophy, and conceptualization with sensibility. Our work specifically explores the realm of tectonics through practice and theoretical research focusing especially on the way architectural tectonics affect other formal disciplines.

Hyundai Kim is the founding director of Tectonics Lab. He holds a Master of Architecture from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Engineering from Yonsei University. He is a registered architect in the state of Florida, United States. After working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP New York, he joined the faculty as Professor of Architecture at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Tectonics Lab

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The project for the Seosomun Bakk historic site proposes to articulate the site into a sequence of 10 interconnected public courtyards orchestrated in accordance to the size and capacities of the human body and punctuated by discrete buildings that fulfill the program requirements and give meaning of use to the urban spaces around them. The courtyards are articulated by a network of low walls and changes in level connected by ramps in a way that allows differentiation and recognition while preserving the integrity of the whole.

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The changes in the level of the ground provide different vantage points of perspectival experience of the city, giving each courtyard a unique identity and perceived feeling. Since the project is to be built over artificial ground on the existing subterranean garage and recycling facility, the various heights of the ground provide enough depth of soil for the planting of different tree species that characterize each courtyard with their unique presence. Each courtyard could be named after the type of tree that occupies it.

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Dogwood Magnolia Cherry Persimmon Cypress Pine Cedar Mulberry Ginkgo Poplar and Forsythia (sound barrier to the train tracks east of the site) In this form and size, the courtyards form open urban rooms and relate to the dual dimension of living in the city, the awareness of self of the individual and the acknowledgment of others that defines community.

Although irregular in form, the courtyards are largely bound in simple overall dimensional relationships such as 20m x 30m, 10m x 50m, 40m x 40m, etc. giving them graspable relationships of size and connecting them, ideally, to the range of sizes typically enclosed within the palaces and temples of traditional Korean architecture.

Through their L-shaped or tapered forms, the courtyards question a single understanding of space, proposing instead a reading of depth dependent on personal location and viewpoint, promoting tolerance for a multiplicity of opinion through the understanding of public shared space.

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The different courtyards are articulated through a series of low walls and ramps that are extensions of the architecture of the proposed building. This way, the project proposes to fuse together the traditional urban distinctions between fabric and monument, a moment of sincerity for a city like Seoul, where most of the originals have been destroyed and replaced by questionable copies. The architecture proposes a homogeneous and indistinct expression, bringing down to everyday life the significance of heady subjects such as death and faith. All buildings are constructed in white site-cast prefabricated concrete, left exposed in both exterior and interior.

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The Memorial Church sinks its floor down into the level of the parking garage below to create a solemn space of 20 meters of depth while on the exterior not surpassing the recommended 15 meters of height. The span of its breadth and depth 25x25 meters is supported by a concrete cross on the ceiling that is itself supported by two diagonal columns emerging from the walls. Besides the main nave with centralized altar, the church includes the vestry, a baptistery and an elevated choir accessible by stepped ramp.

The Small Church is proposed as a building of modest size but platonic proportions, a perfect cube of 16x16x16 meters. The problem of religious art today, affected by the loss of craftsmanship and the crisis of non-ironic rhetoric, finds an expression in these churches through the use of projected light. The grid of windows defining the space of both churches could be used as a "giant-pixel" screen to project into the interior the inspired imagery of the Catholic faith.

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The Education Hall includes a state-of-the-art sloped-floor auditorium connected to a spacious entry lobby for people to gather before and after functions and directly adjacent to the Cafe to allow people to break during program intermissions. The Library located on the second floor provides a well-lit high-ceiling space for pleasant reading and is located close to the Cafe, providing easy relief for scholars engaged in study sessions. Both Cafe and Library are located in the Persimmon Garden, which includes a reflecting pool. This will provide a pleasant atmosphere for work and play, and a distinctive element to easily find and recognize the Library.

The project is based on three fundamental objectives:

a fine-tuned practical organization of spaces; an architecture of today that is nonetheless well-grounded in a pre-modern tradition of religious architecture; a forward-looking conception of shared facilities in the city both symbolically meaningful and yet welcoming and human-scale.

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Obra Architects was founded by Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee in the year 2000 in New York City. The year 2013 marked the inception of their third outpost in Seoul, following the opening of their Beijing office in 2011.

Obra is the 2006 winner of the PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program, 2005 Emerging Voices at the Architectural League of New York, and has produced a body of award-winning projects recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards, and the Kim Swoo Geun Preview Prize in Seoul, Korea, among others.

The work of Obra has been exhibited widely, at venues including the 2016 and 2014 International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, The Museum of Modern Art, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Art Museum of China, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, and Rhode Island School of Design.

Their second monograph entitled Obra Architects Logic: Selected Projects, 2003 - 2016, which traces the trajectories of nine selected architectural projects, was recently released by Architectural Publisher B, Copenhagen. Forthcoming projects include the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017 and an installation at the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans 2017.

Obra Architects

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