SEOUL – Korean firm JOHO Architecture has completed renovations to a deteriorating, unremarkable property in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The site originally contained a 180-sqm, single-family home that, despite the project’s name, has been repurposed as an office building. The other defining feature of the pre-renovation site was a large wall running along the street, also given a completely new look. In fact, the only aspect of the property left more or less in its original state is the building’s traditional giwa (‘tile’) roof.
JOHO’s lead architect, Lee Jeonghoon, approached the remodel with a question in mind: 'What kind of forms and materials are needed to renovate a decades-old brick house with modern sentiments?' The answer seems to be quite a lot of them. An intensely textured façade now covers the building’s brick walls. A new street-level car park is wrapped in a white, aluminum trellis, and it shares stainless steel-clad walls with a subterranean gallery space. The brick and concrete of the original retaining wall have been replaced with pale, beige marble.
Of the renovation’s many facets – there might be too many – the one most worthy of a closer look is the building’s new façade, a triangular accordion-fold of dark-grey stainless steel panels. From a distance, the panels appear to completely seal off the offices from the exterior, but each is punctured by a dense array of simple, geometric shapes that filter light both in and out. The façade’s texture evokes some of the smaller-scale patterns in traditional Korean architecture, namely the giwa roof tiles that now coexist with JOHO’s contemporary façade, even matching its color.