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Partitioning Nature: Hwajopungwol


written by
Go Seokhong, Kim Mihee
photographed by
Roh Kyung
materials provided by
edited by
Park Jiyoun

SPACE September 2023 (No. 670) 



The client wanted to spend the final years of his long life in an apartment that could serve many functions and foster a close relationship with nature. The family required a house of about 40 pyeong (132m2 ), which was not that different from their present apartment. The project began by addressing the question of how to achieve a balance between a small house when compared to a site of over 200 pyeong (611m2 ) and its surrounding natural landscape. Hwajopungwol is the result of multilateral attempts to capture the seasonal changes both inside and outside of the house. In order to enrich the contact point between the house and nature, the guiding design concept recognised outdoor space as simply another room in the house, and so the entire site was planned in such a way that created space through planes and sections rather than an overall layout of masses. The house was to be a low and unfurling single-storey structure that would maximise contact between the house and its natural surroundings on this large site. Non-physical elements such as light, shadow, sound, the seasons, and time have been incorporated into the design of this unique spatial atmosphere through the cross-sectional arrangement of the space, the gaps between spaces, and the physical properties of materials around the space, allowing the viewer to experience changes in nature in a multisensory way. 




Capturing Nature 

To the front of the site there is a disorderly parcel of open land and one hears vehicle noises from the large road. Unlike the chaotic neighbouring conditions, the site stands at a level above the road to command fine views of the horizon, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Distancing itself from these disorderly and cluttered surroundings, and establishing an active relationship with the distant landscape, the enclosed garden has been designed as outdoor space with a boundary that manages the views. The fence around the enclosed garden becomes a wall connected to the building. The wall forms a visual boundary, forging a natural relationship with the open garden as a floating structure open at its lower reaches. The inside face of the wall undulates which makes the heavy concrete appear as if it is floating, and this surrounds the landscaping of the enclosed garden to create a sense of enclosure. The wall has a gap at the bottom and top, as we wanted to draw nature into each of these gaps. The lower gap between the wall and the ground has been planted with herbaceous plants, which means the boundary between the enclosed garden and the open garden will shift and change with the seasons and time of day. In spring and summer, when the greenery flourishes, the plants grow over the gap and blur the boundary between an enclosed garden and an open garden, while in fall and winter, shadows cast by low light create a boundary between them. In the middle area against an undulating wall, the planting design aims to respond to wind and light in the lush green summer, and to show the beauty of stems against the wall in the winter. There is a structure that supports the raised wall at the top of the enclosed garden, presenting a gap between a canopy-like roof and wall. The gap brings distant mountain views into the enclosed garden. The varying height of the roofs naturally connects the mountains from one end of the hillside to the mountain in the distance on the opposite side. The overlapping roofs, at different heights and depths, play with the surrounding landscape, drawing the distant mountains into the house. At the end of the hill, closest to the forest where changes in the seasons can be noted most visibly, there is an outhouse of a semiexterior character with a small courtyard that connects it to the main building. The courtyard between them is an outdoor space that is most open to the surrounding natural environment, providing a visual link to the natural origins of the site. At the same time, the courtyard, with minimal planting and wood chips, provides the olfactory experience of nature. 


Shaping Sensory Memory 

Hwajopungwol begins with a symbolic space for the family at the centre of this large site. Rather than offering a more functional proposal such as a living room and dining room like general houses, it aims to shape the memories of a space that are unique to one’s home that can connect families across generations and cannot be found elsewhere. The large empty space is open so that can be filled with anything: family gatherings, conversation, dining, children studying, and so on. A large semi-circular ceiling was proposed to create an atmosphere that would encourage smoothe flow through the space and serve as a prompt to memory rather than an authoritative function. The large ceiling is supported by a minimum structure and its interior has been emptied so that it becomes a nu connecting to nature inside and out when the windows are open. The ceiling is finished using exposed concrete, revealing its structure to blur the boundary between inside and outside. The rough finish of exposed concrete is a metaphor and sensory device reminiscent of the moon’s surface, for the client who wanted to introduce opportunities to gaze at the sun and moon. To maximise the floating impression, a gap was created whereby the four sides of the roof meet the wall. The gap between the wall and roof is not only a device that draws the view of the sky into the house, but also delivers a passage of time by light entering through the gap. A colourless, odourless, empty, meditative space under the symbolic roof will provide the family with total relaxation and shared experiences. 


Materials Providing Both a Backdrop and Sensory Impressions 

Hwajopungwol is a house in which native nature and artificial nature (enclosed garden, courtyard) take on a lead role. To capture nature, the house was divided into minimum number of functional spaces and a large portion emptied. The large empty space is full of ever-changing birdsong, flowers, trees, and passing breeze. Exposed concrete surrounds the large empty space inside and out. The material is constructed in four different ways: plywood formwork, counter timber, grinding, and chipping. Exposed concrete surfaces of different textures appear differently depending on the surrounding environment demonstrating its sensitivity to the needs of each space. The base, in direct contact with the ground, is chipped to give the impression of a continuous ground texture, while the middle part most in contact with occupants is made of smooth plywood formwork, and the middle section of the enclosed garden employed surface grinding to expose a rougher texture in a slightly homogeneous way to accommodate seasonal changes to vegetation and moving light. The building top, which is the most brightly lit, features the roughest vertical striped texture by removing counter timber. Throughout the day, light moves the most across the top area, casting shadows of different orientations and depths over time, which encourages a more three-dimensional response to nature. The rough texture in the vertical direction overlaps with the textures of the trees around the house, blending into the landscape. The outhouse located closest to the natural landscape is finished with wood to reveal the natural traces of time and highlight the gradually changing textures and colouring of wood over time to a grey-like exposed concrete. 




You can see more information on the SPACE No. 670 (September 2023).​ ​



SOSU ARCHITECTS (Go Seokhong, Kim Mihee)

Design team

Hong Jinyeong, Kim Byeongjun


Yongcheon-ro, Okcheon-myeon, Yangpyeong-gun, Gyeo


single house

Site area


Building area


Gross floor area


Building scope






Building to land ratio


Floor area ratio




Exterior finishing

exposed concrete, wood siding

Interior finishing

exposed concrete, eco-friendly paint, wood floor

Structural engineer

Eungujo Engineering Inc.

Mechanical engineer

Geonyang Mec Co., Ltd.

Electrical engineer

Keukdong Power Tech Co., Ltd.


Lee Sanghun

Design period

June 2020 – Aug. 2021

Construction period

Sep. 2021 – Mar. 2023


Lee Sanghun

Landscape design

Garden the verandah

Go Seokhong, Kim Mihee
Go Seokhong and Kim Mihee began their collaboration when they installed Memory Box, the grand prize in the Gwangju Folly Ⅱ competition. They established SOSU ARCHITECTS in 2016 and have carried out a wide range of projects such as Dongshimwon, 3/1 Building, Shinsun-gil, and Yangpyeong Apricot Village. They pursue architecture of individuality and universality, often finding form as small units within an urban fabric. Dongshimwon, their major work, won the grand prize in the emerging architecture practice track of the Korean Architecture Awards 2018, while Jipum Pangpang Playground won the grand prize in the Heartwarming Space Award 2018. Go Seokhong has been teaching as a visiting professor at Namseoul University since 2021. Kim Mihee has been teaching as an adjunct professor at Hanyang University since 2019 and is currently working as a public architect in the Incheon Metropolitan City, and rapid integrated planner in Seoul Metropolitan Government.