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홍제동 개미마을 주택 프로젝트

Project : 50m2 House

Design Period : 2014. 08 – 2014. 10

Construction Period: 2014. 11 – 2015. 02

Type : Residential

Location : Seoul, South Korea

Site Area : 85.00㎡

Site Coverage Area : 44.30㎡

Building-to-Land Ratio : 52.12% (Max. 60%)

Total Floor Area : 49.23㎡

Floor Area Ratio : 57.92% (Max. 200%)

Building Scope : 2F

Structure : Wooden structure

Finish : Corrugated steel sheet, Stucoflex

Architects : OBBA (Sojung Lee & Sangjoon Kwak)

Design Team : Jaeho Kim, Daae Kim, Hojae Lee, Sojae Ahn

Construction : TCM Global

Photographs : Kyungsub Shin

50m2 House

We know that how the idea of home is important to ourselves without necessarily quoting 

from British poet and critic T.S. Eliot who once described “home is where one starts from.” 

However, today’s home signifies something else than where one begins one’s life from. The 

“home” becomes a mere exchangeable asset within the logic of capitalism, and as a result, we 

drift along the homogenized dwelling types. 

According to the Seoul Institute’s 2015 census data, the average floor area of a newlywed’s 

home is 72.7m2, and among them, 44.6% lives in an apartment building and/or multipurpose 

commercial/residential building typology. Two third of newly-wed couples lease on deposit 

basis, and 49.3% of those couples pay 100,000,000 to 200,000,000 KRW. The standardized 

typology and over-inflated housing price limit the parameter of choice in choosing a house 

for a young couple.

The clients were soon to be married. They asked us to build a house based upon their 

fundamental questions about how to start a life together, satisfying the basic essentials. They 

wanted a modest but plentiful life in it. The project emerged from finding a realistic solution 

for the newlyweds to move into an alternative abode, other than an apartment building or a 

multi-unit housing. 

The site is sitting in an entrance location of the Gaemimaeul, one of the few remaining 

colonies of rag pickers in Seoul, Seodaemoon-ku, Hongjaedong. The walls of this old shanty 

town are decorated with paintings in attempt to embellish the area, and this exudes a 

mysterious atmosphere. Two adjacent roads–8m wide on the north-east side and 3 m wide on 

the north-west–meet in an angle, and the site’s south-west and south-east sides are narrow 

alleyways only for the pedestrians. The site is steeply sloped, whose level difference is 4m. 

We concentrated on three main concerns. One was to find ways to read and approach the 

poor condition of the client’s purchasable land within the limited budget. The other was to 

integrate the house into the landscape of colorful wall paintings that are contrasted with the 

existing monotonous shanty town. Lastly, the issue was to conjure up a small but plentiful 

spatiality within the modest amount of construction budget. 

It was important to preserve and utilize the site condition as much as we could, in order for 

the most effective construction process. The house is two-story building that contains 

minimum programs requested from the client. The floor area is less than 50m2, the maximum 

area that doesn’t legally require a parking lot.

As the site is surrounded by the roads sloping up towards north, we designed the entrance of 

the building in between the first and second floors. For the efficient movement and program 

arrangement of the house, we placed the living room and the kitchen on the second floor, in 

order for a sufficient natural light and a great view, as the couple spends most of their time in 

these spaces. Some private rooms and bathroom are on the ground floor. The house is small 

but every nook and corner of the space is efficiently used. At the attic of the house is a study 

or a movie screening room, and the stairs that lead to the attic functions as bookshelves. 

There is a level difference between the living room and the kitchen so that the cooking table 

is extended to a seated dining table in the living room.

Our dwelling culture has been occupied by the large scale development along the capitalist 

logic, which resulted in erasing many of the city’s own characteristics. If we look for 

solutions to the remaining poor-conditioned small lands in the city, one could anticipate that 

our dwelling typology be abound again, while reserving the traces of the local qualities.

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