Discussing the role of the home, the architecture studio OBBA reference the great poet T.S. Eliot who said the
home is where one starts from. They go on to offer a critique; that the home has been reduced to an exchangeable asset situated within the capitalist framework. The result is generic typologies that don't tell an individual story of the lives that inhabit them. OBBA sought to step outside of this current, and create a home that was specific to the needs and wants of the clients, a home that was unique. The clients, a young soon to be married couple, wanted a home which answered the pivotal questions about sharing a life together. The life that they imagined sharing within it was modest, yet plentiful. Offering an alternative to moving into an apartment building or multi-unit housing, the project evolved—and delightfully so!
Located at an entrance to Gaemimaeul, one of the few remaining colonies of rag pickers in Seoul, Seodaemoon-ku, Hongjaedong, the site presented interesting constraints and offerings. Rag pikers is a 19th and early 20th century term for people who made a living by rummaging the discarded waste in the streets, looking for materials to salvage. In an attempt to beautify the area, the walls surrounding the town had been decorated with paintings, giving it a unique character. The steeply sloped site has a level difference of 4 meters and is contained by two different streets, of different widths, meeting at an acute angle.
This beautifully rendered, perspectival cross-section demonstrates the relationship between the house and the various ground levels, as well as the relationship between the different spaces in the home. Given a limited budget, the poor conditions of the site had to be cleverly approached. The existing site conditions were assimilated into and informed the design as much as possible to adhere to the modest construction budget. Limiting the design to the minimum of programs required by the client, a small two-storey home with a floor area of less that 50 square meters was born—they key significance of this is that 50 square meters is the maximum area that does not require an allocated parking lot.
Due to the slope the site and access to it, the entrance was placed on the second level, where the social spaces of the home reside. The change in level between the kitchen and living space, provided the opportunity for the incredible kitchen bar that is enjoyed whilst sitting on the living room floor thanks to a clever recess for ones legs! The kitchen is enclosed as its own space, yet the large cutout makes it feel connected and open. The attic space is effectively utilised as a mezzanine—no inch of the home has been left without consideration.
The attic space is effectively utilised as a mezzanine which contains a study and media room—no inch of the home has been left without consideration. Above the large glass sliders, movie screenings are projected onto the gable end. Even the stairs that lead to the attic space maximise every square inch of space, serving a secondary purpose as bookshelves. For more media room ideas, take a look here—although the simplicity of this understated but wonderful space may be all the inspiration you need!
The sleeping space and bathroom are located on the lower level and are accessed by this delightful staircase. The bright white space finds but one interruption—the beautiful natural timber that forms both the tread and riser, warping its way down the stair. The handrail emerges as a thread guiding one through the spaces. Even the cat has been given a space to play on its very own 'cat-sized' stair case. Bright, white and playful—there is no grand opulence, instead simple gestures do the trick!
We leave you with one final shot of the exterior from a different angle. The little black box, capped with a gable roof, sits atop its white platform. The image is imbued with a sense of use and interaction; it captures the movement of the woman on the swing as her partner runs up the external stair. The relationship of the design to its site and its occupants is clear—the intentions of the project were beautifully realised.
If you enjoyed this home, you may also like to take a look at The Wonderful Home on a Micro Site