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Dance House for Teenagers
Ansan city was venue of a traumatic affair last year. Despite the long and rich history, the city became one of the satellite bedtowns, when Seoul exploded with incoming population. The original character of the city faded away like other new towns, scattering calm apartments, dry facilities, and mechanically disposed green and cultural spaces within the city limit.
City is not a machine with mere components and dynamics. It is a delicate, affective complex body where people live, meditate, and rest. But in cities of modern era, everything is standardized and quantified. In such environment, we are left with standardized life and thoughts. And teenagers in this age are pressured by overburden study. Last year, teenagers from one high school in Ansan city were cast away in the sea on the way to school trip, and their lives were lost. Whole nation was in shock and in deep grief by the accident. Korean people blamed themselves and felt heavy responsibility of their incompetence that they couldn’t save those children.
We thought that we should do something for the teenagers who went through an overwhelming incident. The Korean Committee for Unicef contacted us when we were developing our idea to design a space to soothe and comfort the people of Ansan city after the incident. Their plan was to use the available spaces of Ansan-city Multicultural Family Support Center for the children and teenagers of Ansan, but the plan was not concrete at the time.
The first impression of the center was that it was large but was not used extensively. The first step was to improve the grand staircase in the middle of the building that was underused. Changing it as a rest area rather than a mere passage, we put some colorful benches in the shape of the word ‘CHILD’. The colorful benches will give life to the colorless space. And then we changed the existing stone floor to a smooth wooden floor, and the cold glass handrail to a branch shaped handrail to represent the potential of the growing children.
On the outside, by planting and installing some benches, we could improve the dry, shadeless outdoor space. People can rest for a while and children will grow some flowers on the new flower bed. And we planned a small house-like structure, to activate the ‘Terrain Vague’, which is the ambiguous space on the side of the existing building.
First of all, we wanted the children to feel freedom inside the new structure. When we asked some teenagers what they wanted, they answered that they wanted a space to dance and sing. Of course! It will be the most direct way to get rid of stress of not only Korean teenagers but also any teenagers of the world.
So finally, a very simple and clear program was chosen. We put a large mirror inside for practice dancing, and hung an attic to go up by a ladder. Teenagers will think, play, and have a conversation among themselves.
When needed, they can open the accordion door and give a performance, and people can watch from the yard. Teenagers can make a reservation and autonomously use this facility. The system is simple but was not possible under Korean educational environment.
This little house is for teenagers to get out of social restrictions and rest while they do something they like, and encourages them to think and have discussions. This space is built like a most basic shape of ‘house’, like as the cabin of David Thoreau where he led a simple, transparent life for two years, two months, and two days.
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