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‘Simni Cherry blossom road’, located in Hadong, Gyeongsangnam-do, is one of the most beautiful roads in Korea. From the Hadong Hwagae Market to the Ssanggye Temple, cherry trees make a tunnel in spring, where people flock to enjoy exquisite scenary.
The cherry blossoms covering the road look as if the giant dragon is emitting up cherry blossoms as it moves. Once I stepped into a crowd and entered a cherry blossom tunnel. Seeing the pale pink petals blowing off in the wind, covering the sky and falling on the ground, I felt the sense of being in a surreal dream. When cherry blossoms are gone, the road turns into a quiet and tranquil place.
We built a house on a hill overlooking that road. The name of the house, surrounded by stretched out mountains as well as this beautiful road, is Juck-e-jae. The name originates from the phrase in Hwagumkyeong (Buddhist scriptures), meaning ‘to stay calm and admire.’ Just like the name of the house, it was commissioned by a patron who just retired, moving to his wife's hometown Hadong, to enjoy a quite life.
The site is located in the middle of Jiri-Mountain, and a stream flows smoothly between the mountain faces to join the Seomjin river. The owner of the house is a couple in their 60s who live with their elderly mother. Their children visit time to time. Because her family and friends are firmly rooted in her hometown, she felt comfortable to build this new home, unlike others moving to countryside for their retirement in a strange place.
The owners have been living quite carefree city-life in their apartments for a long time. After deciding to build a house, however, they began to dream a house with a vegetable garden and a wide yard in rural village, just like they had lived in their childhood. Naturally, the exterior of the house had to look like Hanok (traditional Korean-style house). But it is too expensive to build an authentic Hanok now and their lifestyle has changed a great deal to be accommodated by old Hanok. Therefore, we used a common light-frame wood structure, but followed the spatial language of Hanok, connecting the interior and exterior of a house.
Storage for clients’ collections and old household items were provided economically in a limited scale of house. The wife’s study room was placed close to their mother’s room. The second floor was designed as ‘Room of relations’, to be provided as guest space for relatives and children.
After setting the program, the owner turned his eyes to the outside of the house rather than figuring out how to decorate the house. Throughout the construction, the big concerns of client were what to plant, how to build up the axes, how to build the gardens and the reservoirs, how to manage the persimmon trees and chestnut trees.
In a way, concentrating in the landscape matter seemed to be the right direction. We forget so easily that house eventually sets off from the ground. We cannot simply say that design of a residence ends with the physical building. The design of a real residence begins when we start to recover the land around.
Like a cloud of smoke rising from the house, like the smell of warm soup that a mother prepares for the family dinner, like a cozy garden without careful attention, like the warmth of the words that we share among the family, we experience the warmly emotional connections with people who live together. Only then the interactions create the perfect temperature of the house and become the temperature of the life. This is what we expect from the house.
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