SEOUL – Keeping in line with Korean building regulations isn’t the easiest part of an architect’s job. For that matter, keeping clients happy isn’t always a breeze either, when it comes to considering a whole host of factors, such as: visual access to the surrounding views; energy efficiency; an east-facing front door, master bedroom and front gate. While the individual requests of the client’s brief seem relatively straightforward, many of the desired elements conflicted one another. Poly.m.ur founder Homin Kim knew that various architects before him had tried and failed to devise a stimulating solution for the project in the South Korean capital but that didn’t stop him from taking it on himself. Describing his intentions as ‘ambitious, confident and courageous’, the project became a ‘process of searching for creative solutions to work around seemingly conflicting ideas.’
Deep House is based in a ‘residential-only’ area. Additionally, the development is also a designated ‘natural and scenic preservation zone’, which brings a whole list of additional complications and restrictions. For a single-family house, this meant that the two-storey building was permitted to reach a maximum height of 8 m. With three generations living under the same roof, Kim was able to exploit a catch in the guidelines: ‘The height restriction can be eased to 12 m [allowing an additional 4 m] if the roof is slanted at an angle of 1:3,’ Kim explains. ‘We used the regulation to our advantage by creating a design featuring a sloped roof extended to serve as the walls. Not to mention its usefulness as storage space, the airy space created between the vertical walls inside the house and the slanted exterior is designed to serve an important purpose of improving insulation.’
The five, limestone-clad blocks of the house are staggered to accommodate the client’s wish for ‘full access to the stunning view’. While the site’s natural topography contributes to the availability of the picturesque surroundings, it is the architect’s strategic use of corner windows that really makes it possible to enjoy the scenery. Embedded into the walls, the glass boxes create micro spaces that bring the enormity of the elongated roof down to a more human scale. ‘The room may appear as one space but we can clearly perceive that an independent space exists there,’ says the architect. ‘People are inclined to favour small and compact spaces over big and vast spaces. They feel more secure and intimate.’
A catalogue of innovative solutions culminates in a well-thought-out realisation. Although it took six years to complete, the project proves that reinterpreting seemingly independent elements can bring them together to create a unified resolution – something that Homin Kim hopes will provide an example for a new type of residential home in Korea.