This project is a weekend house situated on the border of a nature fringe between artificial and natural environments.
The house has an imperceptibly impossible scale, which is deviates from standard dimesnsions by a tiny difference in height. This distortion of space creates a unique scale for this architecture, which is specific to this project, but also has a universal quality within the framework of the typology.
Nongmak(a garden shed in Korean) is the smallest typology in the residential market of South Korea. It was originally a shed in agricultural area used for farming and gardening. However, it is now popular as a small house, particularly in rural and suburban areas. The building code for nongmaks was revised in 2012, allowing them to have electricity, gas supplies, and a septic tank, which led to their rapid growth in the market.
It is generally built by home makers using prefabrication in a factory to provide customers with cost-effective housing solutions. The process is similar to ordering a product and having it delivered to your doorstep because it is not a luxurious type of housing. Additionally, the 20m2 size limitation has made it easy to optimize and spread.
Due to the restriction of a 20m2 size, nongmaks are mostly built in a rectangular form of 6 x 3.3 m. This is related to the transport system and road laws, as the height of a house should be around 3.6m for these regulations to apply. As a result, they are completed within a fixed volume, which has generated a typology in itself.
SMALLER THAN A FOREST, BIGGER THAN A TREE
This site is located deep at the end of the village, along a mountain path where the delivery system is unavailable due to difficulties caused by the nearby narrow and unfinished road. Despite the obvious opportunity to design differently on site, there was no proper reason to try other forms that would increase the cost of construction and decrease efficiency.
As I looked around, I realized that the site was situated in a spectacular environment, surrounded by natural elements such as the forest, trees, sky, streams, a garden, and a pond. The initial idea was that, even if it were a small architecture, it could be a more flexible and free space if it resonated with these environments.
Initially, it was a “height” that needed to break through the logic of capitalism because there was no limit in height according to the law, and the cost increase was minimal. The project started by defining criteria for the height, which was to be smaller than the forest yet bigger than a tree.
TYPOLOGICAL WEEKEND HOUSE IN RURAL AREAS
This house, at 4.5m high, is slightly taller than other garden houses, but it still falls within the typology of Nongmak. This creates a specific scale for this architecture while maintaining the universality of the typology. It is interesting that this house has an imperceptible scale difference within the typology while still looking like a Nongmak. The 4.2m high internal space as one
room is not just a room but another environment. In South Korea, where apartment complexes are a major residential type, the ceiling height is usually defined around 2.3m. On the other hand, the ceiling height in this small house is much higher than generic rooms, and this character of the space is interactively changing to create an environment on each step of the stair when someone enters in and out the house.
The stairs and gutters are interactive architectural elements that resonate with natural elements.
The triangular-shaped stairs incrementally change the scale of the environment as you head outside. These subtle changes in relative scale towards nature amplify the fact that this house is situated on the border of a nature fringe between a garden and the surrounding natural environment. In other words, the stairs make the natural environment appear larger than it actually is when you go out on the smaller steps further.
The ellipse-shaped gutter has a more direct impact on the environment by replacing an artificial pond with a natural puddle where rainwater is collected. The gutter highlights how architecture can have more relationships with nature than the humans occupying this site as a weekend house, which means temporary living.