the eunpyeong hanok village in seoul is a district situated between a large apartment complex and bukhan mountain. studio_GAON has designed a hanok — traditional house — in the block. the word ‘hanok’ is a very ambiguous term. after the modernization, the houses that were built in western style were called ‘yangok’ — literally meaning western house — and koreans began to call the regular houses as hanok — meaning korean house — as an opposite concept. however, the phrase is a platitude expression that cannot contain the full emotion towards the old house.


all images ⓒ youngchae park

 

 

recently, korean based studio_GAON has built several houses that contain the spatial concept of hanok but they were built in modern frame system. in modern korea, hanok only remains intact in some traditional villages and in designated areas, including bukchon in seoul. as the government enforced its policy to support construction of hanok, the number has been gradually increasing. the owner who bought a lot in eunpyeong hanok village three years ago contacted the architects. eventually the project team designed a hanok built in traditional construction process. the role of the carpenter who knows the traditional method is crucial in the construction process of hanok. fortunately, an experienced carpenter hwang in-beom helped studio_GAON to fulfill its design intent.


the project team designed a hanok built in traditional construction process

 

 

the name of the house is ‘su-o-jae’, which means ‘to protect one’s integrity’. su-o-jae is the name of the house that jeong yak-yong’s — a famous joseon scholar — brother lived in. initially jeong thought lightly about the meaning, but after many years, he wrote essay on su-o-jae when he realized how difficult and valuable it is to protect one’s integrity. in fact, studio_GAON felt the same designing this hanok. for an architect familiar with learning and designing modern architecture, it was burdensome to design the hanok built in traditional way.

  
the name of the house is ‘su-o-jae’, which means ‘to protect one’s integrity’

 

 

the site for studio_GAON’s ‘su-o-jae’ house is shallow and horizontally elongated. normally, a hanok consists of several houses with different residents and different uses, including the main building and a detached house in a larger area. the yards covered by each house and the outer spaces in between provide wealth of spatial difference. by comparison, the expensive land price of the hanok village forces the lot to be smaller, and the site touches the path only slightly, which is not suitable for traditional hanok either. in addition, unlike traditional one-storey hanok, it is usually built two storey high, so the houses stand next to each other.


a hanok consists of several houses with different residents and different uses

 

 

the house is divided into two independent volumes. residence for married couple and two sons, it is thought that when children grow up they can live in a detached house or it can be rented. the annexed building is also connected to the gate and works as a medium to hide and reveal the madang – courtyard. entering through the narrow opening, one could sense a larger spatiality of openness and visual effects of madang. when one enters the traditional hanok, it is through the madang. but now one goes through vestibule. it was inevitable to spare space for taking off shoes.


the house is divided into two independent volumes

 

 

the basement is for exercise rooms and study, while the kitchen, living room and the bedroom are on the first floor and son’s rooms are on the floor above. the courtyard that penetrates the floors above form the basement works as a well to draw the light and wind. the house has a traditional gabled roof to look simple and honest, but it looks showier than intended. the banister rails were also designed as a flat shape, rather than a curve, but they are still more decorative than modern houses. studio_GAON has no choice but ask time to let in the energy of the bukhan mountain, which is spread out to the north of the house.

 
the children’s rooms are on the floor above

 
the kitchen, living room and the bedroom are on the first floor


the role of the carpenter who knows the traditional method is crucial in the construction process of hanok


the house has a traditional gabled roof to look simple and honest


the bukhan mountain is spread out to the north of the house

 

 

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: apostolos costarangos | designboom

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