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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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ARCHITECTURE

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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CHURCHES

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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EDUCATION HALL AND LIBRARY

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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The house is located in the middle of a rural village with many small houses. There is a wide view to the south, and calm mountains to the north. The house, placed in a peaceful rural landscape, does not show itself off, but is a simple for that melts into the slow scenery.

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The house consists of a main building with a gable and a second building with a flat roof, and is spread out comfortably on wide land. Unlike the very simple appearance of the house, the yard is divided according to different uses. It has different characteristics according to the characteristics of the interior space.

The yard that touches the living room and dining room become one with the living room, making it like a second outdoor living room. The yard in between rooms is like a room itself, closed off from the outside. The moss yard of the second building is also cut off from the outside and is a place of quiet thinking, and the deck between the two buildings is an open yard with a view that looks out far away.

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The yard in front of the house is an external space that looks at the faraway scenery with a background of trees and grass, but the yard between the rooms has a wooden deck and small flowering plants, making it an internal living space. You can experience the outside and inside yard simultaneously.

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The finishing of the outside of the house uses narrow and long bricks in a dark brown color that goes well with the scenery from autumn to spring, with zinc panels with narrow grooves on top. The simple horizon over the wide land and the color of the house that is the same color as the trees, forest and fields, go well with its surroundings and create a comfortable landscape.

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Architects : Jae Heon Jeong Location : Yangpyeong-gun, South Korea Design Team : Moonhui LEE Area : 253.0 sqm Photographs : Youngchea PARK Structural Engineer : Chanho KEE Construction : Narae Construction Landscape : Yongtaeg KIM(KNL) Site Area : 1,395.1㎡

Jaeheon Jeong







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