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Rainbow Building

Rainbow Building

DaeWha Kang Design

DaeWha Kang Design is a multidisciplinary practice in London focused on improving human wellbeing through innovative and beautiful design. Selected projects include Communique Headquarters in Seoul, Rainbow Publishing Headquarters in Paju, a six-storey interactive sculpture in Arup Engineering Global Headquarters, and a new master plan for a peace and reconciliation city in Cambodia. DaeWha Kang studied at Princeton University, Yale University, and Kingston University.

DaeWha Kang Design has completed a new mixed-use building in Paju Book City, South Korea. The simple block of stone and glass creates a bold visual statement with its simple lines and rich texture, standing out from the eclectic surrounding buildings. As the home of a publishing house intent on telling the stories of the unsung people of twentieth century Korea, the building’s key feature is the hundred-year stair, a glazed stairwell wrapping around a bookcase with one shelf for every year of the last century.

The new Rainbow Publishing Headquarters has a gallery on the ground floor, office spaces on the middle levels, and a residence on the top floor.

The challenge of the project was to create a dramatic impact within limited means. Simplifying the volume and focusing on the quadruple height space of the main circulation stair creates a sense of monumentality and strength. At the same time, subtle use of texture and rhythm adds layers of richness and meaning to otherwise austere forms.
The vision of the publishers is to produce small print run biographies of ordinary Koreans who lived through the extraordinary times of the twentieth century, building up a country from one of the poorest in the world to a globally successful economy. Their belief is that while the individual lives might be only small sparks of light, when collected and seen together they might come together into a beautiful rainbow. The staircase winds its way around one hundred levels of shelves, rising through the years from 1918 to 2017. As the publishers release each book, they will put the new biographies on the shelves corresponding to the years when their subjects were born. In this way the journey through the building becomes a journey through the history of the country and its people.
The hundred year stair is generated through a simple genetic algorithm that grows from the base to the top, branching out horizontally while reserving space for books in every year. The exterior façade has a similar logic of sedimentary growth, with volcanic stone bricks cut at three different depths creating layers that echo the interior.

Recent academic research has linked stair climbing with longer life. People climbing five flights a day have been found to live 18% longer. Making the staircase the most attractive space in the building encourages the family to take the stairs to the top floor rather than the lift. An interactive app at the top of the stairs allows the four family members to tap in each time they reach the top, recording their total progress over the month and encouraging them to compete against one another. As the years go by, the data collected from this app will form another layer of living history captured within the building.

The aim was to create a timeless building, and the simple materials of hyeon-mu-am volcanic stone, clear glass, and steel were selected for their durability and variegated textures. Although having simple volumetrics, the building’s siting and orientation respond to a rigorous analysis of the local climate. The long façade faces southeast, towards the best views and abundant but less oppressive light. The hundred-year stair faces to the southwest, giving good views to the wetlands and the rest of the book city through a gap in the urban fabric. The long façade also absorbs the winter sun, radiating heat to the garden while blocking the northerly winter wind. Small windows on the north facade minimise heat loss while maintaining cross-ventilation.


Architect: DaeWha Kang Design (DaeWha Kang)
Design team: Monika Byra, Weronika Widenska, Paulina Pawlata, Lawrence Lynch, Monika Bilska
Location: 230-1 Block, SeoPae-Dong 472, Paju City, Korea
Programme: Offices, Gallery, Residence
Site area: 700㎡
Building area: 165㎡
Gross floor area: 660㎡
Building scope: 4F
Parking: 5
Height: 15.2m 
Building to land ratio: 24%
Floor area ratio: 94%
Structure: Reinforced Concrete 
Exterior finishing: Hyeon-mu-am volcanic stone 
Interior finishing: Exposed Concrete 
Construction: L'Espace 
Eco-Friendly Building Consulting: Younha Rhee 
Design period: Sep. 2015 - July 2016
Construction period: Aug. 2016 - June 2017
Client: Hee-Jung Kim, Rainbow Publishers CEO 

materials provided by DaeWha Kang Design

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