studio_GAON frames surroundings with mise en abyme photography studio
all images courtesy of young-chae park




nonhyun-dong 40 years ago was much different than today. an area of heavy agriculture, crops spread to all visible across the steep hilled landscape. like most outlying zones of metropolitan cities, its lands were soon overtaken by the sprawl. a steady influx of city-escaping residents began to push the price of land into the realm of unattainable, at first for the farmers, and eventually for the newcomers themselves. commercial buildings now inhabit nonhyun-dong, interspersed with the remnants of private homes and what’s left of its agricultural history.

framed façade detail 




seoul-based firm studio_GAON was commissioned to leave their mark on the rapidly changing district. their work, deemed ‘mise en abyme’ after the infinitely occurring phenomenon caused by placing to mirrors opposite one another, is the office of a prominent photographer. the cube-like form features a series of frame shapes overlapping and superimposed over one another. these filter the surrounding environment, composing an always changing array of images as the outside environment evolves.

studio_GAON mise en abyme photography studio nonhyun-dong south korea designboom
northwestern corner 




the ‘mise en abyme’ office building is organized by function across seven floors. two of the levels are sub-ground level, the lowest being a large room dedicated entirely to shooting. one floor above, is a multi-purpose studio. unlike the floor below, this ‘basement’ space is dominated by a long, high window that lets in an abundant amount of natural light.

solid western façade, for privacy from residences across street 




the ground level is the same height as the street that runs along the western side. located here is a small car park, enough for several vehicles. upon entrance, clients and/or employees are let out into an open, high-ceiling spaced that acts as cafeteria and informal gathering place. all other areas of the building are accessible from the room. a prominent staircase provides easy movement to more levels above, all four of which are dedicated entirely to administrative tasks and office work.

 studio_GAON mise en abyme photography studio nonhyun-dong south korea designboom
stairs on left to sub-levels -1 & -2; stairs on right to ground level & car park 

terrace of basement -1, stairs to left leading to photography studio 

large windows allow natural light into the floor

studio_GAON mise en abyme photography studio nonhyun-dong south korea designboom
ground level 

stairs lead clients and employees to the four remaining floors above 

office space with nonhyun-dong skyline 

framed landscape 

studio_GAON mise en abyme photography studio nonhyun-dong south korea designboom
administrative space 



\'mise en abyme\' exterior
structure at night
frame window details
concrete wall and exterior stairwell
level -1 terrace
office space
work area
plan -2
plan -1
plan 0
plan +1
plan +2
plan +3
plan +4
plan +5



project info:


architects: hyoungnam lim, eunjoo roh (studio_GAON)
project team: sangwoo yi, minjung choi, seongwon son, sungpil lee, hanmoe lee, joowon moon, sunmin park
photographs: young-chae park
translation: joowon moon
location: nonhyun-dong, gangnam-gu, seoul, south korea
use: commercial facilities
site area: 298.40m2
building area: 176.45m2
gross floor area: 992.97m2
building scope: b2f-5f
height: 17.4m
bulidingtoland ratio: 59.13%
floor area ratio: 198.89%
structure: reinforced concrete
finish: exposed concrete
construction: yeziin construction
supervision: studio_GAON
design period: 2013.11-2014.01
construction period : 2014.03-2014.12



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: nick brink | designboom