Chilbo Culture Center for Youth
Utopian Architects + Studio In Loco
Ahn Tecjin is a Korean registered architect. He has graduated architectural engineering college of Korea University. And he completed doctoral course at the graduate school of Korea University. He has 8 years worked of experience in HDC (Hyundai Development Company) and HEC (Hyundai Engineering Company). He had been teaching architectural design studios in Korea University and Paichai University He is now the principal of the Utopian Architects.
Kang Seunghyun has graduated from Architectural Engineering College of Korea University with a Bachelor degree. He had worked JINA Architects and Urban-Ex Architects. He completed his Master of Architecture in TU Delft, and worked in Geurst & Schulze architecten, in Den Haag. He is now the principal of the Studio In Loco.
Kim Naun is Stichting Bureau Architectenregister registered architect. She has completed her Bachelor at Virginia Tech, United States. She had worked in Sorg and Associates in Washington D.C. After completion of study for Master of Architecture at TU Delft, she worked at Mei Architected en Steenbouwers. She has been teaching in Dankook University and Yonsei University. She is now the principal of the Studio In Loco.
Diversified Space in Daily Life
Nam Jungmin(professor, Seoul National University of Science and Technology)
The Chilbo Culture Center for Youth (Chilbo Culture Center) which was planned to vitalize youth culture in the West Suwon district, stands alone on a large site located in a recently formed park. Because the site is devoid of surrounding elements to respond to, as in a city, the architect may have had difficulty devising an idea for the design to best address the site and its surrounding environment. Possibly, because of this difficulty, the existing public architecture nearby is composed of divergent forms that do not harmonize with the park and the surrounding area, and therefore aggravate the impression of the overall landscape. Chilbo Culture Center takes on a tidy plane, an orderly mass composition, plates that emphasize the lateral, and uses selective materials to restore order and stability in the wider scenery of the park, holding the fort amidst public buildings of excessive forms.
The element that first catches your eye at Chilbo Culture Center is the masses that constitute the perforated roof that soars up the parallel plate of the second floor, called the ‘unit house’. These masses imply the various programmes and spaces that the Chilbo Culture Center runs throughout various widths and volumes. Programmes of numerous characteristics that could offset each other, such as music, sports, reading, discussions, meetings, and rest, do here happily co-exist and take place simultaneously. To accommodate these programmes in a single building, the architect utilized the ‘unit house’ as a key architecture medium and as an architectural solution.
The mass that adopts a gabled roof form is commonly seen throughout examples of contemporary architecture. It may be tacky, but the architect uses it effectively to place the functions and to organise the spaces of ‘unit houses’ while addressing the various requirements of the different programmes. The functions and spatial requirements of the ‘unit house’ include the division and placement of areas based on noise and silence, activity and non-activity, programme organization based on elevation, the lateral expansion of the common space, and a connection between the first and second floor spaces, all of which are expressed through architectural linguistics in a colourful and unified fashion.
The ‘unit houses’ imply the various programmes and spaces that the Chilbo Culture Center for Youth runs throughout various widths and volumes.
The inner space of the Chilbo Culture Center has been created through this process and provides spatial diversity and richness that cannot be experienced in normal buildings. In Korea, where apartment buildings are the dominant form of residence, most of the youth members experience a repetitive composition of standardized space without elevation changes and do not meet with a more diversified space. The architect strives to present spatial diversity in the routine life of teenagers through the Chilbo Culture Center, which normally would be experienced in a more limited way. The gym uses the ‘unit house’ as a whole without floor separation, thereby producing a deep and elevated space, with a grand area and natural lighting like a cathedral from the Middle Ages. Teenagers can enjoy this special spatial experience while enjoying sports activities. The book café that links the common area on the first floor and the northern main entrance on the second floor, connected via changing vertical and horizontal volumes, provide a dimensional change and depth to the space.
To further enrich the diverse spatial composition of the House, the architect also paid particular attention to the entrance and courtyard emplacement. To enable a line of sight inside-out and allow for sufficient natural light to enter, the position and size of the windows in each room, and even the window placement among rooms, were sophisticatedly conceived so that the indoors would be lit without artificial lighting. For the ‘unit house’ position, the line of sight towards the exterior and natural lighting were enabled by appropriate void spaces, such as the courtyard and ceiling window positioned in between, which draws sunlight to great effect into the most shadowy corners of the building and across its vast floor area.
If the spatial composition, placement, movement path, lighting and line of sight were elements considered to accommodate the various programmes in the ‘unit house’, a structural method to actualize this ‘unit house’ was meticulously implemented by the architect. The steel concrete frame used on the building is a combination of wall and column structures. Wall-style oblong columns were used. This displays the architect’s sincere approach to not only plan the space but also space and structure through a comprehensive consideration of the appropriate structural methods.
Programmes that involve loud noise and robust activity, like the singing room (karaoke), and physical activity facilities are executed in the confines of the ‘unit house’ and are enveloped by thick wall-style structures. Spaces for seminars, conferences and solitary work have column-style structures to shape-shift and expand the space in accordance with the needs of the user and programme. One noteworthy feature of the column structure is that a wall-style column with conspicuously different width to height ratio has been used. The architect intended to change the presence of the column that stands in the middle of the large space. From the entrance, one notes that the wall style columns have been placed in the middle of a large space, as in the first floor hall and book café, and have diminishing presence, whereas from the inside, the long surface of the column acts as a space divider that oblong columns cannot easily perform. At the same time, this bestows sense of direction to each space. The wall-style columns are utilized in the seminar, office, and program rooms to eliminate the presence of the column protruding from the wall corner and to secure a rectangular space. The architect uses his ‘shared wall’ plan to vitalise the formative features of the wall-style column, particularly for the wall vertically divided by the oblong wall-style column, and to use the column’s thickness for the creation of storage and rest spaces.
The book café that links the common area on the first floor and the northern main entrance on the second floor, connected via changing vertical and horizontal volumes, provide a dimensional change and depth to the space.
The position and size of the windows in each room, and even the window placement among rooms, were sophisticatedly conceived so that the indoors would be lit without artificial lighting.
The gym uses the ‘unit house’ as a whole without floor separation, thereby producing a deep and elevated space, with a grand area and natural lighting like a cathedral from the Middle Ages.
Chilbo Culture Center is a social attempt to penetrate the daily lives of teenagers with the contemplation of culture. Immersed in a life focused on university entrance exams, moving from home, school, and tutoring institutes, this architectural challenge will restore an experience of spatial affluence and make it a part of their daily lives. While visiting the buildings in the neighbourhood, many teenagers could be seen enjoying cultural activities such as karaoke, dance classes, the gym, and cafés. As the architect explains, ‘the most significant factor considered in the design was to present a fresh form of space that the students would not experience at home, school, or in other local institutes, and to allow them to feel such space with their senses’. The architect’s effort to transfer special spatial experiences into daily life has bore fruit.
Indeed, as a final offshoot of this complex, the Chilbo Culture Center missed some points. The lack of completeness in finishing material selection and details degrade the richness the spatial organisation possessed by the structure. However, as a product of a public agency and an architect fuelled by the aim to create a better physical environment, the Chilbo Culture Center has accomplished architectural achievements that most public architecture fails to achieve. It is a significant treasure for the local district and for Suwon City.
Nam Jungmin is an architect and educator. He is currently teaching as a professor at Seoul National University of Science and Technology and conducting design research through OA-Lab. He has gained his Master in Architecure at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, with a Letter of Commendation and experienced his professional practice at OMA (Rotterdam), Safdie Architects and KVA. He received numerous awards, including AIA International Regions’ Honor Award for Architecture and BSA/AIA’s Housing Competition’s 1st Prize.
The element that first catches your eye at Chilbo Culture Center for Youth is the masses that constitute the perforated roof that soars up the parallel plate of the second floor, called the ‘unit house’.
Architect: Utopian Architects (Ahn Tecjin) + Studio In Loco (Kang Seunghyun, Kim Naun)
Design team: Oh Changjoon (Utopian Architects)
Location: 209 Seosuwon-ro 577beon-gil, Gwonseon-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
Programme: cultural facility
Site area: 13,056㎡
Building area: 1,647㎡
Gross floor area: 2,353㎡
Building scope: 지상 2층
Building to land ratio: 12.62%
Floor area ratio: 15.35%
Structure: reinforced concrete
Exterior finishing: brick (white and dark grey)
Interior finishing: wooden boards, plaster
Structural engineer: Yong-Woo Engineering
Construction: Tae Yong Construction Inc.
Mechanical engineer: Samwoo EMC
Electrical engineer: Chunil EMC
Design period: June 2015 – Nov. 2015
Construction period: Feb. 2016 – Feb. 2017
Construction budget: 4.2 billion KRW
Client: Suwon City
edited by Park Semi | photographed by Lee Choong-gun | materials provided by Studio In Loco