Moohoi Architecture Studio
buam-dong, jongno-gu, seoul, South Korea
Project Year
Private Houses
Kim Jae-Kwan

House Where We Will Live

Moohoi Architecture Studio as Architects

When JIP-SOORI is required If you live in a place where your children feel safe on their way home thanks to soldiers and policemen standing guard your home around the clock and all the year round; thus a thief dare not show up; you are gently reminded up even when your car is scratched by somebody; but if you suspect that they can watch not only your children's safety, thefts, and vandals but also, maybe… maybe your garden and even your living room through high resolution binoculars as if they are spying on neighboring movements but actually your home.

If you live in a town where your neighbor's fence infringes on your land and another neighbor infringes on alley, and even you infringe their land…; you may get relieved because it is conventional in old town but reviewing Building Act reveals that you have to give up 10㎡ to satisfy the minimum condition of alley width to four meters, and building coverage ratio and floor area ratio don't signify nothing in your land due to the right of light to north, setback regulation on the fa?ade, and height limit from Cultural Heritage Protection Act; you just decided to move main gate of your house from the roadside to alley, but your neighbor notices it and comes to you saying "Umm, as you know, I regard this alley as my garden. I am going to grow Chinese cabbage and lettuce for preparing kimchi for the winter. So I oppose to your plan to open your main gate on this side" and the term 'opposition' implies that he may file a civil complaint if you don't respect his opinion.

If you live in a place near a military base free from prying eyes due to its limited accessibility but one day castleof Bukhan mountain is opened to the public and they freely peep your garden and terrace on their way to the castle.

If you live in an ill-fated place VassiliZaitsev prefers to lurk waiting to attack with MosinNagant, a commander may use for firing range and Zhao Yun may call contemporary Changban ; a group of motorcycle gangs pass by with their hands on (not grapping) the handlebar of Harley-Davison, as if they are aligning with others, wearing chaps (even in summer), sunglasses (even in rainy day) and helmet making a thundering noise every weekends and holidays; at noon, tourists hang around your gate asking "Were izu ?tonn?… SanmotoongeCaf? onTelevi?" ; in the late fternoon, a long line of camouflaged soldiers armed to the teeth trek peeping in your garden.

If you live in a place new bride moved to your neighbor is always complaining of looking down on her garden mentioning invasion of privacy, in spite of your explanation about the steep site condition which makes you look down her garden as your neighbor on the other side does yours as usual in old town but she argues that she can't understand because she has lived in apartment houses, though your former neighbor said hello and share food though each garden is open to each other.

If you live in a house facing South considered good for living but with good space only on southern side (usually bedrooms, front entrance, and living room) and dark and stuffy space on the other side (usually kitchen, bathroom, and boiler room); turning on the boiler raises not indoor temperature but only hitting bills; masonry wall and footing wall delivering the weight of roof to the ground exceed their role and suck up underground water like sponge.

HouseWhere TheyOnceLived;

House Where We Will Live

I met architect Jaegwan Kim for the first time in the building site of Sangdo-dong three years ago. Like this house, it was also a renovation work of an old urban house built in 1960s by developers.

At that time, he just started remodeling work of old houses, calling his work as repairing architecture. Struggling to dealing with all the process from design to construction, he left an impression of wild warrior. Hearing of Rine house project in Buam-dong, I visited his office after a long time. His office is on the tenth floor of an old building in Sunwha-dong, Jung-gu near Jeong-dong, which has stood there for a long time. Humble but implying long history, the office dovetails with the atmosphere of home repair architect.

Yujin’s residence After a friendly conversation in his office, we visited the residence on the slope close to Changuimun of Seoul Castle, commanding a fine view toward InwangMountain. The client spent years to find this thirty year old wooden one story residence with common garden. Its architect decided to repair and conserve the existing building rather than design new one after demolishing the old one.

At first sight, the result looks as if totally different and newly built one. However, observing closelyone can find the trace of existing buildingaccumulated for thirty years everywhere. In fact, new visitors may think this as totally new residence. But its neighbors will very naturally accept it as familiar landscape like before. Such ‘familiar landscape’ is very important theme in terms of cultural inheritance and urban memory. You may conceive it but it is very difficult to realize it. But Jaegwan Kim succeeded in solving this conundrum with the concept of home repair. Such work process will be highly estimated even in the future.

Inner space of the residence shows well that the architect developed a new idea carefully in the existing space. In addition to the light, wind, air, sound, smell, flower and tree of day and night, which can’t be achieved in new building and can be experienced only in the existing space, new volume of proper scale forms a relation with surrounding landscape. The attraction of this residence can be summarized by two factors. One isa sheet of thin wall newly inserted between garden and existing building and newly created space in-between. Newly inserted wall plays the role of making up new face by covering the old façade of existing building. But it doesn’t completely cover the old face. The memory of lost face is revealed and concealed by leaving some part of opening in the façade of existing house. Ambiguous space which is inserted at the boundary of existing building and garden by this wall and can’t be called inside or outside plays the role of spatial device enabling various activities by closely connecting indoor space and garden.

The other thing is the roof structure made of gable roof and wooden truss achieved by removing the central part of ceiling. The architect proposed a dining room and living room there by suspending a sheet of wide horizontal panel. Space created by the contrast of old and dark truss structure and new white plywood forms a symmetrical filed of both darkness and sunlight.

Two spaces mentioned above are established by the theme of history and memory dwelling in old house. Such method and space can’t be achieved in new house. It is interesting that these two spaces take ‘own land’ and ‘own sky’ which can’t be achieved in apartment houses as their theme.

The architect runs the construction site by direct management. Thus architect and his colleagues have to play the role of choosing material and technician, site overseer, and technician. They work based on their own skills and learn by repeating trial and error. Styling themselves carpenters, they leave their trace in the details of their work. Through thorough site-oriented method, old house can lead a new life by succeeding its own history.

In Japan, we can find that some architects carry out their works in a similar way. It is IshiyamaOsamu(1944- ), professor of Waseda University who runs DAMDAN Design Studio. Represented by the name of his office, it does not only prepare drawings but also carry out craft. He is famous for not giving up to the end in spite of extreme cost for anyone who really wants to build a house by direct management of the site. In the reality of flooding with commercialized houses, he is a rare architect who has fought for proposing a cheaper residence by directly connecting the materials and master craftsmen to the client for a long time. The revolution of distribution channel done by great foregoers and the concept and achievement of open-technology will be a good guide to Korean architecture. Unbelievably, these two architects seem very alike in spite of age difference.

Contemporary Renaissance Residence Remodeling market of old house is huge and there are many specialized architecture in this filed in Japan. New television program comparing before and after house repairmen is catching popularity by showing the change of old and humble house into dream house with a limited budget and time by an architect with magic hand.

Jaegwan Kim is the second architect after artist Jinsong Kim I have met in Korea, who calls himself carpenter, and the first architect who is struggling with old houses as his design object. He calls his work home repair. Repair means ‘mending again’. It sounds a bit passive in Japanese. When ‘repair’ is replaced by ‘regeneration’, however, I could understand clearly what he does and what he wants to do in the future. ‘Regeneration’, that is the concept of Renaissance means the transformation into new life. It is the history, life, appearance and body of human itself rather than return to the classic or restoration that the concept focuses on.

Remodeling of house shouldn’t be only repair and it has to be transformed as new house. For that purpose, people should be put at the center. And architects have to propose totally new and fresh idea for new house by analyzing the history, environment, form, space, and structure of house in detail, and discovering and drawing these rich contents to the surface. Jaegwan Kim is trying to apply the difficult and attractive theme of ‘House where he have lived, house where we will live’ to old houses with trace of people. Not only he makes creative art works, but also he makes attempts to create unique relationship with others by changing his social status as architect and participating in urban social life through such activities. With the change of architect’s works, the type of architect itself is also changing. New type of architect is likely to appear. According to him, this may be contemporary carpenter. But process of his life is hard and sometimes away from the exemplary society. He may run a risk of becoming an object of ridicule and ending up as the target of derision in a play as a clown. In 1970s, some anarchistic architects appeared with small house projects one by one. They are no other than the great architects such asIsozakiArata, Hara Hiroshi, Ando Tadao, Ito Toyo, and Ishiyama Osamu. After forty years, they are now all world famous architects.

Now it is the era when the creative activity and its contents have to change. I hope many individuals with special talent and ability will be produced. Architect Jaegwan Kim just started to take up the running on his favorite Porter truck waving a flag of regeneration architecture like Don Quixote. Don’t Stop! Run! Run!

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