Architect designs shared spaces to grow concept of 'village' - Korea Times
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Architect designs shared spaces to grow concept of 'village'

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Architect Lee Jun-hyung, leader of The Project HUAM, which creates expansive shared spaces in Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District, poses in front of a townhouse space, which houses a cafe and a living room, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min
Architect Lee Jun-hyung, leader of The Project HUAM, which creates expansive shared spaces in Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District, poses in front of a townhouse space, which houses a cafe and a living room, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min

By Jung Da-min

According to a biennial report on living conditions by the Seoul Metropolitan Government released in late April, a third of the households in Seoul are single-person ones. For those living alone, having a larger living space is a luxury, and as such, most of those people live in relatively small studio-style spaces.

To improve the quality of life for these people in their downtime, architect Lee Jun-hyung, 37, has launched "The Project HUAM," which creates expansive shared spaces ― such as kitchens, living rooms or other private spaces ― in Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District.

Since launching the project with the opening of Huam Kitchen as the first shared space in 2016, The Huam Project is currently operating multiple spaces, including a kitchen space, a library space, a living room space, an exhibition studio space, a baking space, a private spa-like bathing space and a townhouse space, which houses both a cafe and a living room.

The Huam Kitchen / Courtesy of The Project HUAM
The Huam Kitchen / Courtesy of The Project HUAM

The Huam Library / Courtesy of The Project HUAM
The Huam Library / Courtesy of The Project HUAM

The Huam Living Room / Courtesy of The Project HUAM
The Huam Living Room / Courtesy of The Project HUAM

The N Seoul Tower and old houses seen outside the window of a cafe in a townhouse space in Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District, in this Nov. 16, photo. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min
The N Seoul Tower and old houses seen outside the window of a cafe in a townhouse space in Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District, in this Nov. 16, photo. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min

"The main idea of The Project Huam is about building 'a house which houses a village inside.' This idea can be realized by building elements of a house like a kitchen or living room in different places within the village," Lee said in an interview with The Korea Times, Tuesday. "People want to dine at one place and then read books at another or watch TV dramas with friends at other places, but the concept of a house nowadays, considering the fact that many are single-person households, often does not support such functions."

Lee, who himself is a resident of Huam-dong since 2016, says Huam-dong is a very attractive neighborhood for an architect like him, as there are many different kinds of housing, from old houses to villas, or relatively small-scale apartment complexes, along with old alleys.

"In Huam-dong, there are a wide range of housing types, from those relatively cheap to those extremely expensive. The diversity of physical spaces indicates the diversity of people living inside. People in Huam-dong include a wide range of people, with day laborers, seniors collecting waste paper, young single-person households who go to work in other regions of Seoul, newlyweds, students and people in high-income brackets," Lee said.

The N Seoul Tower and buildings of Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District, are seen, Tuesday. Korea Time photo by Jung Da-min
The N Seoul Tower and buildings of Huam-dong, an area in Seoul's Yongsan District, are seen, Tuesday. Korea Time photo by Jung Da-min

"The park inside the village is very small but this is one of my favorite spots in Huam-dong, as I see many different people come to the park at all hours, including older people, couples, teenagers or kindergarteners. It's like the park is used over the full day by different generations," he said.

He said that this aspect is the very point that makes Huam-dong more like a village with traditional values, whereas many other cities these days are losing the traits of a diverse community and instead now only serve specific functions as commuter towns, or what the Japanese call a "bed town."

The architect says that he wants to add more diversity to this village through The Project Huam by offering diverse options of spaces for people. "For example, if there's a district where there are 10 cafes, I want to give people a different option by creating a district where there are eight cafes and two shared spaces like those we offer."


Jung Da-min damin.jung@koreatimes.co.kr


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