House in White
Woojin Lim + AEV Architectures
Woojin Lim is French architect DPLG. Graduated in Hongik University in Seoul, Korea and École d’architecture à Marne-la-Vallée in Paris. After acquisition of the DPLG, a license of French national architect, he collaborated with major architectural and urban design offices such as Chaix & Morel, Dominique Perrault and Valode & Pistre. Ewha Womans University ECC project, which he participated as a responsible architect in Korea, is well known as one of the collaborative works. He co-founded, with Sylvie Piat, AEV architectures in 2009 and is currently active in Paris. He founded AEV Seoul in 2015 and began activities in his home country, starting with Sokcho House in White.
Nature and architecture
Architecture is interpreted as the result of human intervention to the landscape created by nature. If so, what would be the proper attitude of architecture when it is faced with the grandeur of nature? It might be one of the most difficult situations that architects encounter.
The site is located at the edge of the basin sitting between Sokcho and Goheung, facing Daecheong Peak and Ulsanbawi Rock of the Seorak Mountain. When the architect first encountered the site, it was not the superb view of Mt. Seorak nor the site of the building itself that attracted his immediate attention. It was rather the huge open space that was just left there in the air filling the void between the site and landscape.
The architect was charmed by the splendorous feast of light, created by blue sky, clouds, plains and mountains as its background, that changes expressions in thousands of different ways according to the solar movements and changing seasons, and decided to build a house that is characterized with the color of white, a color that encompasses all aspects of them.
The color of white has motivated many artists and architects to dream. The color, in many occasions, is characterized with holiness and abstraction since it is the result of combination of the light of every color on earth, leaving it at the vague boundary between color and light.
Robert Ryman, an American artist of abstract painting, has proved that the white can also be one of the colors with his serial work. Warm, cold, yellowish, greyish, hot, sensual.... The artist shows that the white is a true color with numerous expressions.
Nevertheless, unlike the free expressions on canvas, expressing the white in architecture has been considered almost impossible because of the maintenance problems.
The grey color stays grey even after being tainted, but the white color loses its own value after discoloration or contamination. For this reason, numerous attempts to achieve pure white architecture have been failed since Le Corbusier.
The architecture team, while reviewing numerous materials, noticed a well-known interior material, the artificial marble. Even though the material is proved of its durability against contamination, it has not been used frequently as exterior material because of the defilement problem and the limit of the construction method.
The first reason the architect was attracted to this material was its light reactivity. Its surface reflects the light of the open air most honestly without glare nor scattering due to proper absorbency. As Robert Ryman proved in his works, this material enables a variety of white expressions, in response to the surrounding environment.
The second reason was the workability that can extend the size of panel. Once the durability of color is solved, minimizing the panel joints was the next obstacle the architect has to overcome to avoid contamination.
This is where an interesting architectural solution is found. Generally, buildings get contaminated starting from the horizontal parts such as corners or window frames that are exposed to rainwater, and for this reason, the architect changes the direction of the water flow from inside out. By separating facade and structure perfectly, the contaminated sides are turned to the inside.
Water could flow inward, not outward!
Finding new material and architectural solutions unlocks the clue to the realization of all new white architecture. The architect sees through the possibility of incorporating all facade materials from roofing to wall panel, that nobody has ever tried before.
The form of the house is an overlapping of a gable on a simple hexahedron. This shape of roof with the slope of 60°, which is rarely used in Korean traditional architecture, reminds us of a Swiss chalet or the triangular lantern from some fairy tale. This angle was found through experimentation to be the minimum angle to prevent contamination of white material by snow, rain and dust in the atmosphere.
The pure geometric form built up in white material brings an interesting visual experience that allows the entire volume of the house being perceived as an integral volume rather than a play with forms or materials.
Functional and additional architectural elements like rain water pipes and handrails have either been eliminated or minimized from sight to maximize this surreal visual effect.
Likewise the exterior design with abstraction process, the architect emphasizes on blank spaces in the interior design. By minimizing and simplifying interior elements, it is made possible to drag shadows of outside lights and trees into the floors, walls and ceilings. The artistic inspirations of the painter, owner of the house, freely flows through this space like a huge white canvas.
Though it is a small house, each interior space is designed to have its own characteristics. One can feel like traveling from one place to another while moving inside the house.
Walking through clearly differentiated interior and exterior spaces brings joy of discovering hidden treasures. The architect is determined to include this fun experience for the house owner who will have to put up with a little bit of isolation that comes in a package with the tranquil rural life.
Franco-Scandinavian style is the concept of the interior design, which matches the simple and formative beauty
of the house. This style is a combination of French delicacy and Scandinavian warm and simple sensibility, which is also a result of a cultural and artistic mixture that has long been loved by discerning European designers.
Several sequences of stages consecutively follow the shape of the terrain. The building is landed sidelong on the site, and is designed to divide the exterior space into four as a result :
-Southern garden with a wide open view towards the mountain (Nordic-styled landscape)
-Eastern garden with fruit trees and flowers which brings cozy and secretive feeling (Italian secret garden)
-Northern garden, higher in level than other gardens because of the shape of terrain. A minimalist garden but with various plants (Provence garden)
-Western space with entrance and parking areas
There is a wide variety of exterior spaces with different characteristics, which will provide a variety of pleasures to the rural life that can be otherwise monotonous.
Architect: AEV Architectures Seoul
Design team: LIM Woojin, KWAK Yoonsuk, Jeon Hosung, Kwak Nayean
Location: San 63-6, Inheung-ri, Toseong-myeon, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do, Republic of Korea
Site area: 848m2
Building area: 132.02m2
Gross floor area: 196.66m2
Building scope: 2F
Building to land ratio: 15.57%
Floor area ratio: 23.19%
Structure: Bio-Bloc structure, Light weight steel structure
Exterior finishing: Hi-Macs Panel
Interior finishing: Barisol, Water paint on Gypsum board
Structural engineer: Dawoo structure
Construction: AEV Architectures Council (Lee Shingeun)
Landscape Design: Park Yeon Mi
Mechanical engineer: Daemyong Engineering
Electrical engineer: Daemyong Engineering
Design period: Sep. 2014 ― May 2015
Construction period: Sep. 2015 ― May 2017
material provided by AEV Architectures