By Emeline Paik (former Domus Academy student)
In South Korea, the Nation’s economy has developed rapidly since the Korean War. To reconstruct the deserted and wounded land, change was forced by the government, technology was introduced as solution and help from the West was welcomed. Soon, dusty roads were paved and wooden houses were turned into concrete buildings. As a result, South Korea became one of the most modern and technologically advanced countries in the world today, but at the cost of historical and traditional Korean quality.
Recently, in Korea, people turn to their once forgotten tradition and culture for comfort away from the stressful modern city lifestyle. This new tradition-wave transformed the aged old forms into practical designs but keeping its original characteristics.
Lim Geo Dang, (‘the Forest to live in’) is an example of the new living trend. The wooden box-shaped building floats above concrete piloti creating a unique spatial quality of Korean architecture: the open connection.
Furnishing and finishes are kept minimal to fully appreciate the space and its natural surroundings. Concrete structural foundation and pine tree finishes are the only materials introduced to present the marriage of tradition and modernity.
The concept of this architecture, open connection, continues with courtyards. Courtyards play an important role in traditional Korean houses. Both exterior and interior courtyards serve as a hallway connecting different rooms and levels. Courtyards are the entryway, stairs and platforms of the house.
The duplex with an underground level carries total of 8 courtyards in different floors. They intersect horizontally and vertically that can be reached by taking a few steps from one another. Following the courtyards, a pathway is revealed to travel inside the house. They close and open spaces, go up and down and introduce infinite continuity and fluidity of the space.
On the first floor, interior courtyards interconnect living room, kitchen / dining room, bathroom and garage. A full height window in living room overlooks the underground courtyard. The underground level is a place of calm and serenity where study and guest room are located. Even though it’s below the ground level, a small courtyard with open sky sits between the two rooms allowing full day light to reach in. Traditional translucent paper sliding doors are used in these rooms that can lift up as well, therefore in summer, or during the day, these paper doors can be fixed onto the ceiling and function as windows or blinds.
Second floor is used as the family floor including family room, master bedroom, children’s bedroom, children’s study, library hallway, and bathroom. The communal floor has large windows for beautiful Jung Bal mountain scenery.
In Lim Geo Dang, courtyards not only interconnect spaces but the time that has passed and that breathes today. Every corner, they await to welcome to the next room or to the past and this unique space of old and new carries on its value in the name of New Tradition. Domus Sensor