A Very Ambiguous Boundary
Buam-Dong "Doo Jip" is a two-family house in which "intersection" and "separation"coexist. The design of this house begins with the relationship between these two concepts. Two families, the parents and their son and his wife, decided to live together for ten years in such a house that we designed. The first impression they got from living at the site was that it was very high up. The house was located on the hillside of Mt. Inwang, and was at a high altitude with a steep slope. At the entry to the site, there was a 5-meter-high retaining wall. The work environment for the house construction was not good due to the high density of the surroundings.
In addition, an inconsistency between the official and current boundary line made it more difficult. Despite these obstacles, the view from the site was so beautiful that the families overlooked them. Standing on the wall, one can see the scenery around Mt. Bukak, Mt. Bukhan, and Mt. Inwang and the surrounding villages. The layout of the house was planned so that the inhabitants could enjoy this beautiful view. It was the first time for both of these families to be living in a single home together, so they had to agree on certain points regarding the garden and the nice view. However, one important issue remained. At first glance, the house looked like a single family home, but it was actually designed for two families. Therefore, we had to create a "very ambiguous boundary"that maintained a certain amount of privacy between the families, while not completely separating them.
First, we tried to place two buildings side by side on the site. This arrangement would have secured independent living areas for both families, but would have been inconvenient for them to use a separate garden. It seemed like two separate houses built on two narrow sites, which resulted in the families not feeling as if they were living together. However, it was certain that sharing a single, open garden would leave the space underused and put a strain on relations between the residents. This would not be a proper way to utilize 330㎡ of land in Seoul.
We looked for ways to separate two families within a single building vertically in order to utilize the limited space of the site efficiently. We decided to provide a garden for the first floor, while the second floor would have a great view. The first floor would be a space for parents who spent time at home during their retirement, whereas the second floor would be a space for the son and wife who need a smaller area.
Then we created gaps that did not intrude on either family's private areas. Once the general outline of the house was done, the roof of the first floor became an outdoor space for the second floor. The courtyard was placed on the first floor. This open space became a small gap where the families could communicate with each other while maintaining the two divided areas. Openings on the second floor facing the courtyard were installed at a height from which people could see the lower floor only when they get close. As a result, privacy between the two families could be adjusted according to their needs. When you open a window, for example, you can hear sounds from the first floor even if you do not get close, so you can hear what is going on below.
The courtyard of "Doo-Jip" in Buam-Dong makes the house have easy access to natural lighting and ventilation. It also connects the interior and exterior of the house, and makes the interior space less monotonous. For instance, we created a water garden in the courtyard where families can relax. In the middle of the courtyard, there is a water garden filled with broken stones, which turns into a stone garden without water in winter. We hoped that the sky could come inside the house through this rectangular water garden by casting its reflection on its surface. We also wanted to preserve the 40-year-old apricot tree that was on the edge of the garden out of respect for the memory of the land. During the construction of the house, it was difficult to work at the small building site while trying to preserve the large tree. We kept worrying about the fate of the tree as it could have died after being transplanted in the hot summer. But finally, it became the symbol of this house and greets you when you enter the front door.
On the second floor, where the son and his wife lived, a wide terrace and roof garden were created in the front with an excellent view and natural lighting. It compensates for the lack of garden on the ground. This space is the most popular place for visitors because they can see the cityscape of Seoul and mountain scenery connecting from three sides.
The second floor terrace, which is also a deep eave of the first floor, blocks the sight lines between each household that may compromise privacy. With Cyperacea plants filling the front side of the terrace, we can feel the pleasing breeze of a nice windy day. While the terrace provides the families with a wonderful view, the skylight brings warm light into each room. There are several skylights in the "Doo Jip." They bring sunlight from the south, a design complementing the main direction of the house, which is facing east. The skylights are sloped to match the shape of the roof. They block direct sunlight in summer, while bringing warm natural light in winter. One of the best ways to enjoy this house is to observe these variations of sunlight throughout the seasons.
It has never been an easy task to blend the lifestyle of two families into one shared house. The poor construction environment of Buam-Dong provided valuable experience for us. While developing our house design, we were able to get a realistic perspective on old town housing renovation projects. Anyone can understand why a 6 meter-wide road is required when they try to pour concrete on a 4 meter-wide dead end road. Still, it is always interesting and meaningful to revitalize old and run-down places.
Material Used :
1. Eagon window - window
2. Shinmyeong flooring - wood flooring
3. Benjamin Moore paints - paints
4. Artpage - kitchen furniture
5. Jung - switch
6. American Standard - toilet
7. Crestial - water faucets
8. Saturn Bath - bathtub