Due to the rapid economic development of Seoul, areas under critical infrastructure elements such as railways, bridges and overpasses have over the years been built with inadequate attention to the surrounding urban context and environment. As such, these ‘left over’ and neglected spaces often become dumping sites for rubbish or car parking. In 2017, Seoul Metropolitan Government promoted a development plan to expand social infrastructure and local community facilities by making better use of such spaces. Six pilot project sites were selected, including the area underneath the Jongam-dong Overpass. The site now hosts a new community centre and shelter by Simplex Architecture.
The segmented massing of the new community buildings is intended to allow for continuity of pedestrian flow, with gaps between the volumes acting as pathways that the public can use to spontaneously enter the buildings and socialise with their neighbours.
The program within the various segments includes a multi-purpose cultural space in which to host leisure activities and events, such as exercise classes, performances, and lectures, alongside a community space intended to hold relatively static events such as pilates, exhibitions, and small gatherings. Folding doors were installed between the creative yard, multi-purpose cultural space, and community space, so that the in-between space can be freely expanded and divided.
While the entire structure made of wood visually serves as a shield from the exterior view, the glass windows, doors, and wooden louvers that fill the in-between space create open visual communication between the interior and exterior while managing the noisy exterior environment. The roof that covers the building is finished with translucent polycarbonate to let the sunlight in.
Built in a north-south direction, the structure takes a form of steel structure with red cedar added as cladding. The red cedar panel finish on the exterior of the building also penetrates the inside and envelopes the main structural parts, creating a warm atmosphere together with the birch plywood, which is also installed on the interior walls.
By counterbalancing the cold feeling of the steel frame, seen through gaps between the repeated boards, the architects explain they strived to rejuvenate the dark and desolate atmosphere so often encountered beneath an overpass.