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L-Shaped House in Korea by Byoung Soo Cho Architects

Highly Commended: In it’s sensuous materiality and hidden depths, the L-Shaped House is a welcome respite from the sprawling metropolis of Seoul

This weekend house lies in a small valley about an hour from the sprawling metropolis of Seoul. The clients are a professional couple who spend time out of the city at weekends, but at some point plan to relocate here permanently.

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Folding doors of black-stained cedar open up to reveal a low terrace deck adjoining the main living space. When the house is not in use, the doors seal it shut

Though rural, the setting is slightly schizophrenic, with a recently-developed industrial area to the west and a more pastoral backdrop of mountains and forests to the east. This experiential dichotomy frames the architectural approach, as the house turns its back on industry and opens up to nature.

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On its west side, the house turns a hermetic face to a less than bucolic landscape of industrial sheds

Set in a compound enclosed by gabion walls, the long, low, single-storey house presents a hermetic face to the nearby road and industrial sheds. An L-shaped plan encloses and defines an east-facing courtyard, offering privacy and tranquillity.

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At the heart of the house is a fluid, open-plan living space

The courtyard is filled with gravel made from local white basalt, which reflects light into the house, bathing the interior with a soft luminance.

The bedroom wing faces east to take advantage of morning sun as the couple like to rise early. The living space is a long bar that can be subdivided into different configurations by a system of lightweight partition walls. A low terrace runs along the edge of the living area linking inside and out. The entire house is naturally cross-ventilated to combat the intense summer humidity when the house is occupied more regularly.

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When the house is not in use, doors of black-stained cedar unfold like an accordion to seal it shut from intrusion. Emblematic of the project’s formal finesse and material rigour, the black cedar is exquisitely counterpointed by walls of raw concrete. The jury was struck by the simplicity and sobriety of an architecture that resisted the temptation of rustic pastiche, yet the handling of light and materials also spoke of sensuous and sophisticated hidden depths.

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Fact File

Architect: Byoung Soo Cho Architects

Photographs: Wooseop Hwang

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