younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume

tiny forest by Younghan Chung: the rise of small architecture

 

Younghan Chung introduces a fresh take on small architecture with Tiny Forest, a residential building tucked in a 58 sqm plot of land in South Korea. Shaped like a two-part volume made of wood and steel; the project examines the differences between Japan’s and Korea’s approaches to small-scale construction. ‘Perhaps it is the elimination of unnecessary spaces as much as possible and the fundamental way of living in a small space has become a culture in a long life. On the other hand, for us, economic reasons are the first thing that works in Small architecture,’ the architect writes. While this economic layer encourages an adaption to the new scale and ‘tiny’ living experience, Chung clarifies the need to preserve the integrity of both structure and space in these reduced conditions. 

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
all images © Yoon Joonhwan 

 

 

creating a rich sanctuary within the south korean house

 

Beyond scale, Younghan Chung (see more here) also touches upon modern society’s yearning to escape the confines of their homes and seek out spaces that serve as personal microcosms. With Tiny Forest, the architect offers such a sanctuary through a small private room that embodies the essence of a SARANG BANG — a traditional Korean living space where the patriarch cultivated his mind through study and art, entertained guests, and gathered for leisurely pursuits. The client, an elderly gentleman who had retired from his University teaching career, envisioned a space where he could engage in tranquil activities like reading books, savoring wine, and admiring the panoramic view of South Korea’s Inwang Mountain in the company of friends and acquaintances. According to Chung, it is the client’s interpretation of the space, not its size, that determines its versatility and adaptability over time. More so, he strongly believes that small architecture possesses a greater potential to endure the ever-changing currents of time than large-scale projects.

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
Tiny Forest House is an ode to the potential of small architecture

 

 

an interplay between structure and space 

 

Construction-wise, Chung carefully considered the interplay between structure and space to achieve a flowing coexistence between the two and, therefore, take away any constraint that could affect the client’s diverse lifestyle. In the architect’s 9X9 Experimental House (2013), the architect removed interior bearing walls and major columns, leaving only the four exterior walls as structural elements. This minimalist approach liberated the interior space, offering a more fluid and adaptable living environment. Similarly, in the J House (2018), the architect created an open plan with minimal steel columns (100×100) positioned along the perimeter of the courtyard tree, further emphasizing the fluidity of the interior space. The Light Hollow (2020) project showcased a bold structural approach, employing a 150×150 member as the central column, effectively creating a floating slab effect. This design challenged the traditional perception of structure as a rigid, defining element.

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
entrance to the house

 

 

For Tiny Forest, Younghan Chung once again sought a structural solution that would complement the small architectural concept. The seemingly container-like masses, which appear to be prefabricated units, are actually built from a steel frame with a slender ratio and a transfer beam section. This structural system allows the angled masses of the first and second floors to cantilever out, creating a dynamic and visually striking form. To further emphasize the floating appearance of the wood-clad structure, a small mass extending approximately three meters towards the alleyway was constructed using a CFT (Cement-filled tube) column with a diameter of 89. This choice of material and dimension contributed to the overall sense of lightness and airiness.

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
street-level view

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younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
creating a spatial flow for the client’s activities

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
Tiny Forest nestles on a 58 sqm plot of land, overlooking the Korean skyline

younghan chung's tiny forest house in korea unfolds as a freeform wood and steel volume
the structure appears as a container-like volume

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architecture in korea (411)

residential architecture and interiors (3908)

steel architecture and design (223)

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