A famous, best-selling Korean book – Botong-ui Jonjae (Normal Being) – has informed the design approach for local firm Rieuldorang Atelier’s latest project – Manhwaricano House.
The beauty that is found in ordinary life is the primary theme of Botong-ui Jonjae, and due to the book’s popularity, became a national phenomenon in Korea, where the public has long suffered from the aftereffects of compressed urban growth.
“In order to discover the beauty in ordinary things,” says Rieuldorang Atelier principal and architect Kim Seongyoul, “it is necessary to view them with a poetic sensibility, especially when it comes to our nation’s residential character. So, I started designing Manhwaricano [House] with the question of how architecture can enter the world of emotion driven by the mundane and expected.”
Located in Uljin-myeon, just 30 minutes away from Ulsan, the setting is a place where non-Korean immigrants have been increasingly living in rural areas. Kim explains: “Most of the immigrants here build houses on mountain and farmland.”
“Placing a different type of architecture side-by-side the more traditional and typical homes makes the urban situation uncomfortable, but this ‘discomfort’ is what native Koreans are accustomed to in their residential settings. In leaning into this idea, we hoped to resonate with the mentality of the locals, while moving the architectural landscape of the area forward.”
Manhwaricano House for example, is exceptionally flat where the surrounding houses are varied in periodic ‘thatched’ styles. “In order to smooth out the opposing styles, I thought it would be effective to emphasise the ordinariness of this hyper-plain, solid rectangle of a building by turning a traditional form inside out – literally – where the exterior was box-like, and the interior was gabled and arched like a standard roof. In the form of a square box, the gable roof was deliberately taken out the exterior equation and placed in the interiors to directly oppose the normality of its neighbours – playing with the ideas of what was ‘ordinary’ in the area.”
In addition to the simple shape of the home, Kim focused on creating “empty space where the surrounding landscapes could flow through, to further communicate a sense of beauty in the everyday”, he says.
The most important of the client’s requirements however, was the space under the eaves. “In suburban housing eaves play a very important role. A lot of things that you cannot do in an apartment are possible under the eaves, which was the case for this expat family,” says Kim. “It is a place for instance, where you can do various activities without being influenced by the weather. I was touched by the client’s affection for her family and wanted to present a special format where her family could make the space their own kind of perfect. It was hoped that the home would be a precious thing found in ordinary everyday life. Daily routines will repeat here for the family, and the landscape of the village will always be the same.”
By paying close attention the region’s most ordinary design characteristics, Manhwaricano House rather intelligently takes the ordinary, and transforms it into the extraordinary.
Photography by Yoon Joonhwan
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