Add a Stiff Wind And This House Just Might Sail

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Add a Stiff Wind And This House Just Might Sail

The frenzy of growth in recent years around Teheran-ro, a broad street in Seoul's Yeoksam district, where many high-tech firms have located, has brought a mass of modern buildings of medium height, standing on both sides of the avenue. They all look pretty much alike, except for the Social Welfare Society's Guest House. The elegant structure is a balm for the eye tired by the long stretch of monotony.

Completed last year, the building has spaces for various types of activities - offices, child nurseries and lodging. The nurseries are a safe haven for babies given up by their unmarried mothers. They will remain there until they are sent abroad to be adopted. Other accommodations are set aside for adoptees who have returned from overseas to visit Korea. There are also staff offices.

The seven-story building has an area of about 1,800 square meters. It also has two basement levels.

The main concept of the Guest House is that the building should be functional yet should make those inside feel comfortable and relaxed. According to Choi Dong-gyu, the architect, it was intended to look like a ship floating around the city. "The design focused on housing various functions and making people feel free, even in the closed space inside," said Mr. Choi.

The outdoor resting place on the fourth floor and the terrace next to the restaurant on the seventh floor are the ship's "decks." The wooden flooring and the curved parapet of the terrace on the seventh floor are details that enhance the ship effect. Even the views of the city from the terrace add to the feeling of being at sea.

Unlike the other buildings in the neighborhood, the Guest House boasts a beauty created by the combination of straight and curved lines. The roof of the outdoor resting place on the fourth floor is one of its most attractive features. "The whole building has a good sense of proportion, with its curved sections, staircases that emphasize the vertical and fifth and sixth floors that stress the horizontal," commented Yu Jeon-hi, professor of architecture at Kyonggi University. But he did have one gripe. "It would have been better if the entrance to the building were a little bit more elaborate."

This structure is proof that good architecture can change the atmosphere of a neighborhood.

by Shin Hai-kyung

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