This Recently completed Deep House (House with Deep Wall) is the culmination of 6-year-long pursuit and determination of its architect Homin Kim. Credit for successful completion of the daunting task goes to Kim’s ambitious vision to situate a modern and practical residence in challenging landscape backed by unwavering support and trust of the client. Most striking feature of the Deep House is its roof, slanted at an angle, which streamlines flawless as walls as a single unit. By opting against conventional use of the concept of roof and eaves and adopting exterior stone louvers, volume of the Deep House is dispersed in shallow depth throughout. Hollow space created underneath the slanted roof and the vertical walls is designed to serve not only as a layer of insulation improving the energy efficiency but also extra storage space. Another noticeable feature of the Deep House is its use of corner windows. Once the layout of the rooms was confirmed, corners of the rooms were left exposed by installing box-type windows. Rooms and the size of corner windows were strategically laid out to allow maximum benefit of the spectacular scenery from inside while minimizing adverse impact of chilly winter draft. It also manifests the most important element of spatial concept: micro space. Corner windows are ‘window space’ but also creates ‘room inside room’ not separated by any physical boundary of walls. The room may appear as one space, but we can clearly perceive that an independent space exists there. Kim was aware of people’s inclination to find corner space cozy and useful regardless of the size of their homes, and he wanted to utilize that instinct. Deep House project was a process of searching creative solutions to work around seemingly conflicting elements such as efficiency and style, function and form and necessity and redundancy. Factors that may seem irrelevant are assigned with critical functions in greater context. Kim highlighted that the Deep House project was his attempt to challenge the dogma of modernism that “Form follows Function” and propose creative alternatives.
Deep House (House with Deep Walls) is situated at the foot of a quaint trail that leads up toward Bukansan Mountain. Mesmerized by the magnificent surrounding, Kim agreed to take on the project 6 years ago not knowing the long and winding journey that awaited him. Client was about to welcome the birth of his youngest grandchild when the design process began, but it wasn’t until that child was about to start school when construction completed. There were many hurdles that hindered the project, but the most time-consuming task was developing innovative solutions to best accommodate the client’s needs that seemed to be at odds. Demands of the elderly client were relatively straight-forward, but some of them often defied each other. While the client wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the comfort of his home with great vantage points, he demanded energy efficient home like a newly-built homes by keeping freezing winter draft out. Influenced by feng shui, the front door as well as the master suite were asked to face eastward just like the main gate. Unlike other bedrooms that can be placed adjacent to the front door facing the same direction, it is typical for the master bedroom to be located away or often opposite of the front door and that made the client's demand improbable when following the conventional norm. Since Kim knew there was a hoard of architects before him who gave up on the project after failing to persuade the client he decided to take on the project to see if he could make it happen. Kim knew very well that he had to step out of the box in order to find creative solutions. Core architectural concepts such as form and function, efficiency and style, and conventional and contemporary needed to be completely reinterpreted.
Kim began the design process by first taking the zoning regulation into consideration. Not only the site was designated as residential-only zone, development was also restricted as natural and scenic preservation zone requiring preliminary review by the city government. Permit was limited to construction of single-family residence with a maximum of 2 floors standing up to 8 meters. However, there was a catch; the height restriction could be eased to 12 meters if the roof is slanted at an angle of 1:3. Extra height opened up room for an attic. The regulation was imposed with the purpose of promoting slanted rooftops seen in European cities such as Florence, Italy, but Kim had difficult time applying the guideline only for the purpose of taking advantage of added height. He wanted to apply the requirement to designing a modern house that also blended well with the traditional scenery and neighborhood of the site. Kim couldn’t envision designing a house with trendy exposed walls but covered with Korean roof tiles. So, Kim decided to use the regulation to his advantage by creating a design featuring slanted roof extended to serve as walls. Downside of the slanted wall was being forced to increase the building area to secure the needed floor space, but there was enough room with the floor area ratio. Not to mention its usefulness as storage space, the airy space created between the vertical walls inside the house and the slanted exterior wall/roof is designed to serve an important purpose of improving insulation. Client’s demand for an energy efficient home for conventional Korean lifestyle but presented in modern style could be met finally. Task of positioning the front door and master suite to face the east was accomplished by capitalizing on the exposed subterranean level. Main gate of the Deep House facing the east opens to a side walk that gently slopes up toward the garage in the lower-level of the house where the front door is also situated facing the east. Elevator connects the lower and upper-level of the Deep House to enable ease of movement for the client who had difficulty using the stairway. Front yard was designed on the south-side of the master suite located on the upper level. This ingenious solution also allowed the master suite to be situated the same eastward direction to satisfy the client’s request. Adopting vertical approach to floor planning instead of sticking to a conventional horizontal layout resulted in added depth of dimension.
Moving on to the task of finding the way to deliver on the client’s wish for an energy efficient draft-free home while guaranteeing full access to the stunning view, Kim strategically placed corner windows. When it comes to windows designed to bring the outdoor closer to the indoor, the cardinal rule is bigger the better. Frigid winter of Korea, however, demands compromise to be made. Effect of window size on the energy efficiency is critical, and careful consideration had to be given to find the balance. Kim drew the inspiration for the corner windows from a corner window he saw by the stairs when he visited the client at the house that preceded the Deep House. Space created by a small window was not big, but it was doing a wonderful job of bringing the outdoor to the indoor. Expounding on the idea, Kim proposed to arrange all windows of the Deep House as corner windows. It was the best way to enjoy the assortment of scenery without sacrificing the energy efficiency. At the same time, they also added micro-spatial concept of ‘room inside room’. People are inclined to favor small and compact space over big and vast space to feel more secure and intimate. Children are seldom impressed by big space and usually prefer to play in the attic or cozy corners. Corner windows of the Deep House extend their role from their original purpose as windows to creating independent space for such purpose. Kim hoped the idea facilitate many activities such as enjoying afternoon tea and relaxing with a book with nature at the client’s fingertip.
To sum it up, Deep House (House with Deep Walls) was a culmination of dogged pursuit for resourceful solutions for clashing pairs of elements such as efficiency and style, function and form, and necessity and redundancy. Kim understood that elements that seem inconsequential at one glance can serve a very important role seen from a bigger picture. Breaking the mold of modern architecture’s dogma that “Form follows Function”, Kim hopes to inspire reinvention of the two concepts with more positive and creative angle. Personally, he took away an unexpected benefit of learning that certain spaces deemed insignificant can have exaggerated impact when applied with increased scale. It was fortunate to start with spacious property allowing plenty of floor area ratio, and Kim hopes the Deep House stand as an inspiration of a new type of residential home in Korea.