Seosaeng House, located on a clifftop in South Korea’s eastern peninsula, seamlessly blends the imaginative architecture of London-based Studio Weave with the rich heritage of Korean tradition. This multi-generational family home is intricately designed to integrate with the hillside, creating a harmonious connection.
Captivating Views and Design
With its strategic positioning, Seosaeng House welcomes the first rays of sunlight, bathing in the beauty of Korea’s daylight as the sun rises. Offering breathtaking 180-degree views of the Eastern Sea, the house perfectly embodies its name, which translates to ‘the brightening East’ or ‘new life’. The design of Seosaeng House features three terraces that follow the natural slope of the rocky site, seemingly replacing the once-carved hillside.
The Artistry of Form and Facade
Studio Weave’s design revolves around three rectangular forms that create a C-shaped floor plan, cradling a partially enclosed courtyard garden. From the street, these forms merge into a singular entity, discreetly tucked away behind a facade adorned with fluted, pink-tinted concrete tiles. The captivating undulating cladding of the building draws inspiration from the surrounding soil, exuding a mesmerizing glow with red undertones during sunrise.
A Pathway to Serenity
At the entrance, modern concrete stairs lead the way, accompanied by a landscaped retaining wall adorned with river boulders. The landing’s rough volcanic paving intentionally embraces the prospect of vegetation reclaiming the space and harmonizing it with the landscape over time.
Creating Shelter and Tradition
Studio Weave’s conscious design includes deep eaves, providing shelter that embraces traditional Korean customs. A traditional long stone designates space for shoes outside, while a designated steel hanging bar ensures the continuation of the food preservation tradition. The deep eaves also serve to mitigate the subtropical climate, offering shade from the summer sun and protection from monsoon rain. Additionally, broad-foliage trees in the central courtyard reduce the sun’s intensity on the extensive glazing.
Welcoming Spaces and Family Lifestyle
Seosaeng House warmly welcomes guests into an open-plan kitchen and main living room that exudes a sense of openness. Natural light streams in from the expansive east glazing, offering stunning views of the ocean, while the private central courtyard adds to the visual appeal from the west. A set of stairs traverses the home’s axis, leading to the main bedroom, ensuite, main bathroom, and children’s room, acting as a pivotal point within the layout. This central courtyard serves as a contemporary yet deeply traditional feature supporting the family’s daily lifestyle.
A Versatile Home for Retreat and Gathering
The flexible floor plan allows the family to entertain guests and celebrate seasonal festivities. However, Seosaeng House also prioritizes the need for retreat, incorporating layers of privacy and translucency. An intimate secondary living room caters to private family time, and the private sitting area on the upper level offers views through the house down to the harbor. This spatial division creates a multi-generational family home that accommodates various needs.
Materials, Sustainability, and Structural Integrity
Inspired by Korean traditions, the materials and textures of Seosaeng House pay homage to its cultural roots. The kitchen joinery, bench seating, and storage feature warm and tactile Lauran ply, a cost-effective Asian timber synonymous with Korean architecture. The durable grey terrazzo flooring with underfloor heating, along with the exposed concrete structure acting as a heat sink, provides thermally temperate and naturally ventilated conditions with minimal active temperature control. The concrete structure is designed to withstand earthquakes, incorporating concrete piles for added resilience.
Integration with the Surrounding Landscape
Seosaeng House maintains a close relationship with its surrounding landscape. Collaborating with Korean garden designer Garden&Forest, four sections of the site are thoughtfully laid out and planted, maximizing the unique characteristics and microclimates within the topography. From hardy low-lying plants protecting soil between rocks to evergreen shrubs breaking up the wind on the exposed Eastern elevation, the landscape design enhances the property’s aesthetics and functionality. The central courtyard provides a warm and humid climate suitable for ferns, delicate flowers, and deciduous trees that provide shading in summer and allow warm winter sun to filter inside during the cooler months. A rear rock garden, adorned with evergreen shrubs, safeguards the soil and the house from water run-off while offering year-round colors.
The Harmonious Union of Tradition and Contemporary Design
Seosaeng House achieves a delicate balance between traditional Korean design and contemporary sensibility. Paying homage to the awe-inspiring views and surrounding landscape, the orientation, materials, and color palette of the house draw inspiration from its immediate surroundings. A sanctuary for tranquility and celebration alike, Seosaeng House provides a functional family home that adapts seamlessly to the changing seasons and joyous festivities throughout the year.
Lead Architect: Studio Weave (London, UK)
Executive Architect: Architects Office DOMA (Ulsan, Republic of Korea)