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The yellow-door house in Seongbuk-dong born anew

Posted January. 08, 2021 07:24,   

Updated January. 08, 2021 07:24


It is hard to find a mixed food that tastes also good. Adding good ingredients alone doesn’t get the job done; striking the perfect balance between different parts is a rare feat. The Little Assisi, a newly built shared kitchen sitting on a hill inside the residential areas of Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, is a condominium example of such a seamless, sophisticated mixture of different elements.

The foundation of this single story building is an old wood house estimated to date back to the 1940s. The owner had planned to tear down the run-down house to replace it with a small building for rent before changing her mind in the last second. The long-standing landmark for the locals affectionately called “the yellow door house” imposed a sense of duty on her to preserve the place.

It was two years ago when Kim Yeong-bae and Lee Jeong-hwan, the co-founders of Drawing Works, a Korean architecture agency tasked with remodeling of the house, ran into this house and had a meeting with the owner of the place. “The owner wanted to keep the sentiments of an old house while instilling the images of Assisi as she remembers the Italian town when she travelled there with her husband.”

The architecture of Assisi is characterized by a wall finely stacked with atypical patterns of reddish stones. It was the west façade of the house overlooking the entrance where the two architects reflected this specific image of Assisi. The subtle mismatching between the white-coated masonry wall and red bricks with round edges was a successful choice to revive the sentiments of Assisi.

“Sitting on a four-meter breast wall, the house is like the face of his neighborhood. For me, it was very important the house mingle with its surroundings naturally while evoking the images of a foreign town from half the world away,” Lee said. “Building a new house and making it feel old is trickier than it sounds. There were many trials and errors.”

The brick walls have been reinforced with supportive structures. The inside of the house has been expanded to boast a spacious living room and a guest room, with a small attic on. The necessaries and the redundancies were carefully shifted out, and the old steel door was attacked on the wall near the entrance like a signpost. Though it was built entirely anew, the house is and will always be the “yellow-door house” for the locals.

Taek Kyoon Sohn sohn@donga.com