Liverani-Molteni Architetti + HH Architects
Andrea Liverani and Enrico Molteni opened their office in Milan in 1999. They have taken part in around 90 international planning competitions, earning 23 awards, including the First Prize for EXPO 2015 (service buildings). Acknowledgements of their works include the 2005 IN/ARCH National Award, the 2004 Arches Award, the 2004 Piranesi Award and the 2006 Architecture Award from the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, 2006. Their ‘House for a Director’ received a mention at the 2013 Architectural Review House Awards. They took part in the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006 in the Italian Pavilion. Enrico Molteni has taught at Accademia di Mendrisio, and is currently teaching in Milano and Genova. He is also member of the editorial board of Casabella.
Han Hyeyoung treats her projects with curiosity, and has more interest in smaller than larger projects, old as opposed to new ones, surroundings more than the centre. She studied at Kookmin University and then for her masters degree in architectural design at the Polytechnic University of Madrid by staying in Spain, and running the HH Architects since 2014. She had experienced various styles and scales of architecture in architecture studio of One O One, iArc, OCA. Her major works include the Nam-dong Butterfly House, Twin Houses, Gunpo Multicultural Family Project, among others. She is currently teaching at Kookmin University.
Pleasure of Elastic Strings
Choon Choi(professor, Seoul National University)
Twin Houses in Seoul by Liverani-Molteni Architetti and HH Architects demonstrates the pluralistic and informal way of making architecture that is gaining popularity among a new breed of young architects across the globe. This group is loosely banded together, not through ideology or institutions, but through a non-committal alliance of social networks. They nonchalantly reject the insular, self-referential discourse on conceptual form in favour of an irreverent, open-ended, non-hierarchical, and strictly casual play with non-geometric shapes as their preferred mode of design activity. No longer subscribing to the limited index of ‘significant’ buildings by canonical figures as the only relevant reference points, they prefer to experiment with weak shapes and dynamic patterns of no specific theoretical origins or overtones, until they arrive at an ad hoc arrangement of pleasurable moments.
This attitude of inclusiveness and collective jubilance may trace its lineage to the early years of the Bauhaus, where artists and craftsmen of various disciplines worked and played together in search of a new way of making things. The design process as a play of points, lines, and planes formed the foundation of the artistic pedagogy at the Bauhaus, led by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, whose workshops activated simple shapes made of points and lines by tracing their movement. For Kandinsky a point is ‘temporarily the briefest form’ whereas a line is a ‘track made by the moving point; that is, its product’. A line is then created by movement of a point, ‘specifically through the destruction of intense, self-contained repose of the point’ (Kandinsky, Point and Line to Plane, 1926). If the point is the visual equivalent of a zero, or of silence, the line breaks the silence and introduces movement that is initiated through a designer’s action. He called the shapes created through this process ‘elements’, as opposed to ‘geometry’, which is deemed static and inert.
The first scene unfolds from the street where the house pretends to be a plain rectangular box, with three square windows symmetrically positioned on the second floor.
Once inside the house, an array of diagonal lines cross the stair hall, disorienting the viewer’s gaze until it reaches the apex where all lines converge on one point.
Understood as such ‘elements’ or shapes in movement, the drawings for the two villas by Liverani-Molteni reveal their affinity to dynamic shape over static form. Within the interior scenes, as built from these elemental drawings, we discover a sequence of delightful spatial situations. The first scene unfolds from the street where the house pretends to be a plain rectangular box, with three square windows symmetrically positioned on the second floor. A triangle carves a narrow negative space under the brick façade to form a canopy at the front door, pulling the visitor into the house as the midpoint of the line starts to move inward. Once inside the house, an array of diagonal lines cross the stair hall, disorienting the viewer’s gaze until it reaches the apex where all lines converge on one point. It is the focal point of the house, where all movements are momentarily suspended. The gaze then slips past this point as it follows the lines extending on both sides toward the two vanishing points, that are also the vertices of the courtyard defined as a triangular negative space. The pattern repeats on the upper level, until it falls into a void on one side, and reaches the intimate bathing area with its shower zone fully exposed to panoramic outdoor views.
The pattern repeats on the upper level, until it falls into a void on one side, and reaches the intimate bathing area with its shower zone fully exposed to panoramic outdoor views.
The drawings by Liverani-Molteni also reveal a certain way of thinking through drawing, and of their playful design process using simple shapes while rejecting meaningless conceptual justifications. The lines in their drawings are not a formulaic accumulation of static points but elastic strings that are frozen in time. If you were drawing them on a computer, the movement of a mouse dragging a control point would simultaneously push and pull multiple lines that converge on a single point. Each of the two villas in the plan have six points and six lines, and by dragging the middle point, four lines will move at the same time, determining the shape and orientation of the courtyard while dictating the ridges of the pitched roof at the same time. Indeed, the two sets of lines and points in the two villas resemble two dancing figures with outstretched arms and legs temporarily holding the pose on pointed toes. The architects of the two villas chose to arrange a pair of simple ‘V’ shapes to string together two detached houses as closely as possible on two contiguous parcels. Its simple shape is almost typographic, with a blatant lack of conceptual pretense, and gives the project a refreshing aura of self-confidence. The V-shaped courtyard inside each house faces the spectacular view of the Seongbuk valley, and the vertices of two Vs connected together form the shape of a ‘W’, which seems to be tautly stretched between their immediate neighbors. The V-shape in-section becomes a pitched roof, one facing up and the other facing down to form one continuous roof scape that spans across two houses (currently only the upper house has been built). Each V is contained inside a simple box shape to form a planar street facade, and the overall composition results in a playful air of openness and informality that disrupts the atmosphere of hushed modesty and static timidity.
The gaze then slips past this point as it follows the lines extending on both sides toward the two vanishing points, that are also the vertices of the courtyard defined as a triangular negative space.
A triangle carves a narrow negative space under the brick facade to form a canopy at the front door.
Choon Choi AIA/KIA, is a practicing architect and a professor at the Seoul National University, where he has taught in the design studios since 2013, with a particular focus on the intersections between history, art, and architecture. Choi received his Masters of Architecture from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley with highest honors. Prior to relocating to Seoul, he trained in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Pamplona, Spain, and he has also taught at Parsons School of Design, Columbia University, and Korea University.
The V-shaped courtyard inside each house faces the spectacular view of the Seongbuk valley, and the vertices of two Vs connected together form the shape of a ‘W’, which seems to be tautly stretched between their immediate neighbors.
Architect: Liverani-Molteni Architetti (Andrea Liverani, Enrico Molteni) + HH Architects (Han Hyeyoung)
Design team: Liverani-Molteni Architetti – Lorenzo Tamberi, Mattia cavaglieri / HH Architects – Kim Shinhye, Lee Soomin
Location:Seongbuk-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, Korea
Site area: 772㎡
Building area: 203.17㎡
Gross floor area: 579.83㎡
Building scope: B1, 2F
Building to land ratio: 26.84%
Floor area ratio: 49.41%
Structure: reinforced concrete
Exterior finishing: brick, aluminium, concrete polishing
Interior finishing: water paint, marmoleum, cement board
Collaborated design: EWOO Architect INC.
Structural engineer: thekujo
Mechanical engineer: Jusung M.E.C.
Electrical engineer: Hangil Engineering
Construction: SUWOO D&C
Design period: Oct. 2014 – Feb. 2016
Construction period: Mar. 2016 – Feb. 2017
edited by Park Sungjin | photographed by Simone Bossi | materials provided by HH Architects