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Necessary for the Here and Now: KimNam Architects: The Kindergarten of the City

KimNam Architects

written by
Kim Jinhyu, Nam Hojin
photographed by
KimNam Architects (unless otherwise indicated)
materials provided by
KimNam Architects
edited by
Bang Yukyung

SPACE May 2024 (No. 678) 




In my childhood, I was overweight and easily frightened. I hated going up and down stairs, and my body would be soaked with sweat even though it was only temperate. I was afraid that I would be blown away by fast-moving cars. When I applied for the design competition for kindergarten, these memories greatly influenced my design direction when I visited the site. We decided to make a low-lying kindergarten. In contemporary public architecture, even one floor requires high floor height as the ceiling should contain all kinds of facilities. This is not only a problem for children like me, but also for the teachers who lead twenty kindergarteners up and down the stairs. We spread the kindergarten out over a large area and placed the cafeteria, 3-year-old classroom, special classroom, and an outdoor play deck all on the second floor, which is the entrance level. This way, the youngest children don’t have to move between floors even once a day. One floor down, the first floor accommodates classrooms for 4 and 5-year-olds, a large auditorium, and two outdoor play areas. The site is adjacent to a pedestrian route which connects the main gate, main building, and playground to the neighbouring elementary school. The massing of the second floor is projected toward the pedestrian route to provide shade for the elementary school students and a shelter from the rain for their parents who wait for their children with umbrellas on rainy days. The road in front of the 





kindergarten is steep and very narrow. A lot of threatening trucks from the nearby apartment construction site and buses speed past the 2m-wide sidewalk, forcing pedestrians, both adults and children, to hurry past. We designed a spacious entry yard for the kindergarten to provide a place to take a break for passers-by and parents waiting for their children. 



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


KimNam Architects (Kim Jinhyu, Nam Hojin)

Design team

Yoo Seungju


Heukseok-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, Korea


education and research facility (kindergarten)

Site area


Building area


Gross floor area


Building scope

B1, 3F





Building to land ratio


Floor area ratio




Exterior finishing

brick, coated steel sheet

Interior finishing

paint, vinyl sheet

Structural engineer

YOON Structural Engineers

Mechanical engineer


Electrical engineer

Keukdong Power Tech Co., Ltd.


S&B Construction Co., Ltd.

Design period

July 2020 – June 2021

Construction period

Sep. 2021 – Dec. 2022


Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education

Landscape architect

The Trees Landscape Company

Kim Jinhyu
Kim Jinhyu graduated the Yale School of Architecture and Seoul National University. Prior to founding KimNam Architects, He worked at Herzog & de Meuron in Basel, SO-IL in New York, and SANAA in Tokyo. He is a registered architect in Korea. He has reviously taught design studio at Seoul National University and Hanyang University. And he is currently serving as an adjunct professor at Ewha Womans University.
Nam Hojin
Nam Hojin graduated the Yale School of Architecture and of Ewha Woman’s University. Prior to founding KimNam Architects, She worked at Herzog & de Meuron in Basel, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in New Haven, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York City, and Namsan A&C in Seoul. She is a registered architect of American Institute of Architects (AIA). She has previously taught design studio at University of Seoul, Hanyang University. And she is currently serving as an adjunct professor at Ewha Womans University.
KimNam Architects
KimNam Architects is an architectural design firm that originated in a remote village in Switzerland in 2014. Since 2015, it has been active in Seoul, continuing its work. Valuing the various values and perspectives present in architecture, it continues to doubt and redraw with the view that ‘what was right yeasterday may be wrong today.’