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Loose and yet Precise: GUBO Architects + Hong Jihak: Ichon Coworking Office

GUBO Architects + Hong Jihak

written by
Hong Jihak, Cho Yoonhee
photographed by
texture on texture
materials provided by
GUBO Architects
edited by
Bang Yukyung

SPACE April 2024 (No. 677) 


©Roh Kyung

Facing Our City

The client, who runs a publishing company, wanted to remodel two buildings with 29 units of multi-family house to create coworking spaces that would address contemporary reading culture. The existing buildings had a rigid frame system on the lower floor which accommodate parking and neighbourhood living facilities, and a shear wall structure on the upper floor which accommodates residential units. As most of partition walls between rooms were main structural parts, a cluster of small rooms were given as an unchangeable design condition. ‘How we might mobilise this spatial characteristic as a new function for coworking space?’ formed the basis of the design. We changed each room into a workspace, and connected living rooms and corridors between rooms as urban streets lined with shared kitchens, meeting rooms, benches, and bookshelves.

When the partition walls that separated units were partially removed after structural reinforcement, the entire interior was connected to form coworking spaces. The indoor streets of the office with the order of the existing structural walls became a maze of complex circulation. Instead of reorganising them in a streamlined manner, we deliberately kept the layout of interior space in its original state because we wanted to create a ‘city of rooms’ with constant chance encounters, which are connected by shared spaces with ‘corners’ everywhere.


©Roh Kyung

A great design element in change of the use for a multi-family house is the ‘extended balcony’ that is included into service area. When it is transformed into a neighbourhood living facility, the existing internal balconies must be returned to their original state. Taking a little space off and externalising it from the huge mass with a burning desire to expand the area created a building that communicates effectively with the city. Most of all, as each room is transformed into a private office, the externalised balcony forms a useful and well-used transitional space for an office, creating a coworking spatial unit that combines work, rest, and contemplation.

The evil influence of the rampant balcony extensions in the housing of our city is that they have taken away the depth of façades facing the city. The interior and exterior of urban housing have been blocked off by sashes that are fully extended to the exterior walls, hiding the lives of city dwellers from the cityscape. The Ichon Coworking Office has provided an opportunity to realise the idea that only restoring balconies was enough to revive the lost expression of our city.


©Roh Kyung

You can see more information on the SPACE No. April (2024).


Cho Yoonhee (GUBO Architects) + Hong Jihak (Chun

Design team

Park Shinyoung


Ichon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea


office, neighbourhood living facility

Site area


Building area


Gross floor area


Building scope

B1, 5F





Building to land ratio


Floor area ratio




Exterior finishing

exposed concrete, terracotta tile, concrete panel

Interior finishing

water paint, deco-tile, granite

Structural engineer

GON Structural Engineers

Mechanical engineer


Electrical engineer

MK Chunghyo


LAAU Group Corp.

Design period

Feb. – Dec. 2021

Construction period

Jan. – Nov. 2022

Cho Yoonhee
Cho Yoonhee has been working in architecture design since she co-founded GUBO Architects in 2015. After graduating from the department of architecture at Seoul National University and MIT, Cho built her career at IROJE architects & planners in Korea and Höweler + Yoon Architecture in Boston, U.S. Cho’s interest lies in building urban cities from the pedestrian perspective of an average person. She has worked as a public architect for Seoul Metropolitan Government and won the Korean Young Architect Award organiszed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2021.
Hong Jihak
Hong Jihak, after periods of research and building his career at SAC International, HAEAHN Architecture, and Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) at Boston, U.S., co-founded GUBO Architects in 2015. Hong studied architectural urbanism at MIT and received his PhD on theory of architectural history at Seoul National University. Hong is currently working as an associate professor in the department of architecture at Chungnam National University.