Insa-dong Center for Architecture

Insa-dong is a historic district in Jongno-gu, Seoul. There are many antique shops and traditional Korean restaurants which attract many tourists. Insa-dong Center for Architecture was to hold exhibitions and workshops about architecture. We, a three people group, chose one of the most challenging sites – consisting of three different regulations depending on which street the building was facing – because it was located in the center of Insa-dong.


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Historic maps of Insadong from 1800s to early 2000s


The area facing the main street were to be maximum 18 meter high. If the building has four floors the building area would be 70% of site area whereas a three-floor building would be allowed 80% of site area. The part facing the narrower street, perpendicular to the main street, were to have maximum height of 14 meters with three floors. For the portion facing Korean traditional houses maximum height was 1.5 times the width of the road.


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With all those regulations in mind, we looked at traditional Korean houses with courtyards; simplified how those courtyards are formed into point, line, face, and space/void; experimented with figure ground studies. These studies led us to creating faces after faces, voids after voids which would lead people to have a series of memorable experiences when they visit the center. Each faces and voids would show a piece of architecture/events/workshops.


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figure ground study


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point line face space study


Below is the midterm model we presented and exhibited at Chosunilbo Gallery when students from University of Hawaii School of Architecture visited us; it was a joint studio with them. The model shows lines and faces from elevation and bird-eye view which create space. Volumes follow building regulations, it led us to providing a sunken space connecting to the basement area with auditorium, studio, office and library to incorporate all of given programs.


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And here is the final model. A couple of walls were thickened to emphasize them.


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Left: view from the main street | Right: view from the narrow street


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