stacked structure of villa mangwon
The architectural vocabulary of brick buildings built in the 1970s and 80s built by laying concrete slabs on load-bearing brick walls appeals strongly our sense of nostalgia. Buildings by unknown developers and builders can be seen anywhere in Seoul and they are now without doubt a unique type and integral component of our urban environment. As a metaphor for such typical multi-family buildings, the facade of Villa Mangwon attempts to reinterpret the relationship of the brick walls and concrete slabs.
Villa Mangwon takes a form by stacking each floor and adopting a typical form of a house with gabled roof on the top. As a result, familiar volume of the neighborhood and memories of gabled roof could be again mediated so that the form of the building could easily be understood by everyone.
[Multi-family house with rectangular studio apartments]
Having lived in Japan for a long time and returning to Korea, the client wanted a multi-family building on a small plot (145m2), where they can run a shop, earn rental income and live with their two children as well. The site, facing a wide road on the north, was surrounded by low-rise single-family houses, so it could have an unobstructed view of the neighborhood from upper floors.
To maximize this potential, rectangular studio apartments with floor-to-ceiling windows were proposed, where residents could have an entirely open view to the south and north. The floor plan presents the A(served)-B(servant)-A(served) spatial system, so that it has only the ‘core’ space including staircase, bathrooms, entrances in the middle and all things other than rooms in pursuit of symmetric stability and efficiency of building service. During the design process, an ambush appeared in the form of ‘realtor’, which was expected, who was deceiving the client that dividing the units with a wall into two rooms would bring more rental profits.
[A typology as a scene of an ordinary neighborhood]
Mangwon-dong is a very common residential neighborhood of Seoul composed of various types of low-rise residential buildings. Old private houses with gabled roof and typical multi-family houses built by local builders have accumulated over the years and are now creating a comfortable and natural atmosphere in the neighborhood.
Villa Mangwon project started with the question how a multi-family house fits into this common neighborhood. While the ‘white monoliths’, recent forms of buildings that are smoothly carved in accordance with the building code, are being disconnected from their neighborhood, Villa Mangwon takes a form by stacking each floor and adopting a typical form of a house with gabled roof on the top. As a result, familiar volume of the neighborhood and memories of gabled roof could be again mediated so that the form of the building could easily be understood by everyone.
The architectural vocabulary of brick buildings built in the 1970s and 80s built by laying concrete slabs on load-bearing brick walls appeals strongly our sense of nostalgia. Buildings by unknown developers and builders can be seen anywhere in Seoul and they are now without doubt a unique type and integral component of our urban environment.
As a metaphor for such typical multi-family buildings, the facade of Villa Mangwon attempts to reinterpret the relationship of the brick walls and concrete slabs. A wall is penetrated with a window where the vertical load seemed to be mostly accumulated and a pillar with a gabled capital stands as if it supports the structure. These are attempts to overturn the memories of people with the current construction technique and embellishment beyond a mere representation of the past.
White horizontal bands (which may now be a cliché), brick walls, gabled roof, round windows, house-shaped openings and protruding flues for boilers help loosen the otherwise rigid facade adding a kind of humour. This is the result of an intention that the sense of déjà vu triggered by unconventional placement of familiar architectural elements is to be read within the context of the neighborhood.
The building is raised by pilotis to create parking space on the ground floor as well as a sense of openness. Commercial space is located on the 2nd floor with the entire glass facade to the street. The linear studio apartments on the 3rd and 4th floor are divided by the ‘core’ in the middle, and each unit is furnished with a spacious window to the street. The client’s family house on the top featured spacious bathroom, floor-to-ceiling windows for urban view, a skylight that brings natural light and an attic that leads to a roof-top terrace. All these spaces with different functions are stacked by floors and it looks like as if the whole weight rest on a single thin column on the ground floor, which may metaphorically represent the insatiable greed of the Korean society and the unstable situation of Korean real estate market.
[House in House]
The entrance is located right in the middle of the house and the first space that welcomes visitors is a corridor which also connects living area and rooms. The house-shaped and birch-paneled corridor performs its function as a tunnel leading visitors to the high and bright living room with slanted ceiling, adding tension to the house.
The skylight at the end of this corridor adds warmth to the house letting in natural light to the innermost part of the house and creates a romantic atmosphere by attracting the moonlight at night.
A steep stair leads to the attic, another gabled house, which features a round window, birch wood handrails and roughly plastered walls and ceilings, giving a feeling of a mountain cabin and channeling memories of childhood. The attic is normally for children’s playroom and they can easily reach out to their mother in the kitchen below through the Korean-style wooden window.
A small door from the attic opens to the roof terrace, which is a secret space for the family where they can relax or have a barbecue. It also has a feeling of a room due to its wall with a rounded opening on the south. Considering that the space in the house is a bit small but the ceiling is high, all the light fixtures were placed on the wall to leave the ceiling bare and maximize the sense of openness and spaciousness.