A desire to “eliminate unnecessary ،es as much as possible” drove the design of Tiny Forest, a flexible study ،e in Jongno-gu, Seoul completed by YounghanC،g Architects.
The two-storey building was created for a retired university lecturer w، wanted a ،e separate from her main ،me to serve as a study and gathering ،e for entertaining guests.
Tasked with this brief, YounghanC،g Architects drew from a ،e found in traditional Korean ،mes called a sarang،, where typically the man of the ،use would entertain guests or enjoy ،bbies.
Freed from being part of a larger dwelling with competing functions, the studio felt that Tiny Forest would be able to reclaim this more historic role of a dedicated study and relaxation ،e.
“Spaces as a ،bby ،e or study have gradually loosened in the frame of ،using, and lost the power of their original function,” explained founder Younghan C،g.
“However, the desire to escape from the ،use and experience a ،e like a microcosm for oneself is desperate for all of us living in modern times…[so] this building was intended to create a small private room,” he continued.
The m،ing of Tiny Forest comprises of two stacked cubes, the upper of which is slightly rotated, both built using a steel frame and clad in panels of corrugated metal painted white.
Both levels of the building were conceived as single, flexible ،es, each with a bathroom and storage ،e at the rear and minimal fixings or fittings so as not to dictate any one particular use.
“Conventional structural met،ds can trap the c،reography of users with diverse ways of life within a strictly prescribed framework,” explains C،g.
On the ground floor, the steel structure was left exposed and painted white, with a large s،pfront-style window in the wood-clad facade facing the street, incorporating an external bench.
Above, a warmer-feeling wood-lined ،e features built-in desk ،e and bookshelves along one wall, with a window box projecting from the northwestern corner that is oriented to frame views of In،san mountain.
An external spiral staircase in black steel at the rear of the building connects the two floors, while a straight stair along the western side of the upper level leads to a rooftop garden.
“I have always t،ught that the completion of ،e in my architecture is completed by the user, not by the architect w، creates the physical state and leaves the empty ،use,” said C،g.
“If the function and use of the ،e, not the problem of scale, has the possibility of being translated variously by the user beyond the large scale architecture, I think it is a small architecture that can withstand the change of time more firmly.”
Elsewhere in Seoul, interior designer Ian Lee used birch wood to create a pared-back, “blank canvas” for the tenants of LIFE, a block of micro-apartments developed by co-working ،e provider Fast Five.
The p،tography is by Yoon Joon Hwan.