Modern housing with a traditional touchWhere you live defines your life. Housing thus becomes an important part of it, although getting the right place to live turns out to be a challenge for expatriates.
For those in search of a quality residence for a temporary stay, hotel costs are too high while the legalities involved in renting an apartment from a real estate company can be too formidable. That is why serviced residences, referring to apartments that come with hotel-like services ranging from laundry to cleaning, have attracted a lot of attention from residents as well as investors.
Centered in downtown areas, high-rise serviced residences have changed Seoul's skyline. Local construction and foreign investment companies have scrambled to get into this market, which has shown remarkable growth since the first building opened in 1986, according to Kim So-jin of the “Budongsan Bank,” a magazine specializing in real estate affairs.
In addition to expatriates, the rising number of Korean singles going against the tradition of living with their parents until marriage is making the serviced residence business look even more attractive.
While most serviced residences offer upscale apartments in skyscrapers, Song Hae-beom had a different concept. Viewing the type as something too standardized, no different from ordinary apartments, Mr. Song came up with the idea of adding a touch of cultural sentiment to the serviced residence. Thus was born Song Haven (www.songhaven.co.kr), a five-story house sitting in a back alley of Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. For a serviced residence, Song Haven looks rather trim, yet possesses a special architectural taste.
Hiring the Kookmin University design professor Yoon Jae-eun as the architect, Mr. Song himself took part in importing construction materials from Shanghai.
After two and a half years of construction, Song Haven is open to expatriates looking for a quality residence. The first thing a visitor gets to see from the house is a group of bamboo trees and a small waterfall. For the staircases, instead of having the same standard handrails, Mr. Yoon came up with an asymmetrical design using quality wood and traditional Korean lattice work. In the rooms, he mixed and matched traditional Korean beauty with Western convenience. The fifth floor penthouse has a vast outdoor balcony, where the resident can enjoy a barbecue.
“A house is not some motel, but should be a shelter where people can rest, away from the outside world,” Mr. Yoon said.
Mr. Song voiced agreement, saying, “I wanted to create a home away from home that would be part of the resident's life, not just any place where expatriates just stay and leave soon.” Mr. Song, who has already received many requests for information, is planning another Song Haven in upscale Pyeongchang-dong, northern Seoul, this year.
by Chun Su-jin