Urban Agency and Group-K have placed 3rd in a competition for a “Wood Experience Center” on the island of Jeju, South Korea. The project location is an area of the island called Redorum, a wild natural environment containing a dense cedar forest and a tranquil lake. The architects responded to this unique site by designing a building that both preserves the unspoiled beauty of the landscape and creates an iconic building containing an exhibition hall, workshop and library.
The architects began by asking the question, “How [do you] design a building which can truly be in dialogue with the “genius loci” of the site?” The solution was to create a low, one-story building that both blends and complements the natural context. A semi-circular opening in the back of the structure forms a natural courtyard for the building to open onto, while the front features opening with views of the lake.
Urban Agency and Group-K propose a timber structure for the building to reflect its environment through “materiality, proportion and architectural expression.” The building is also clad in timber siding; together with the parabolic roof, the aesthetic begins to mirror the rhythm of the surrounding tree trunks. Because the timber would be left untreated, the timber would silver with time, allowing the building to blend increasingly into the site.
Wood finishes continue into the building interior, where wooden floors, ceiling and walls envelope visitors in the sensory qualities of the material, connecting the indoors to the outdoors. The only other material in the project is the glazing from the strategically placed windows offering framed views to the forest and lake, giving the space an interior expression akin to a modern tree house or hut.
The parabolic roof gives the interior spaces additional ceiling height, and provides room for a large mezzanine that cuts through the building, bringing visitors higher into the canopy level of the forest and providing the best view out beyond the lake.