- Design Team:Park Jung Hyun, Kim Ki Soo, Jang Yeon Su
- Country:South Korea
Text description provided by the architects. Nuwa is located in Nuha-dong, Seochon, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seoul. It is the oldest village along with Bukchon and was the residence of the royal family, scholars, and the middle class since the Joseon Dynasty. After the Japanese colonial period, it was a village of writers and artists from various fields. It is a town where painters such as Chusa Kim Jung-hee, Jeong Sun, Lee Joong-seop, Lee Sang-bum, Park No-soo, and other poets and novelists such as Seo Jung-joo, Kim Dong-ri, and Yoon Dong-ju lived. We pondered the modern sense of spirit of entertainment and art that can be enjoyed in a small stay in Seochon where long history and diverse culture coexist.
Wayu literally means “laying down and sightseeing” in Korean, a way of enjoying the spirit of entertainment and art. Figuratively, it means enjoying paintings or books describing the landscape or historical sites, or appreciating small gardens at home when the time to go out into nature is not possible. Professor Yu Hong-jun talks of wayu in the heading of the chapter of Namhangang River in his book Smiles of the Baby Buddha, “I hope this book is your wayu letting you relish the landscape of Namhangang River even when you don’t see the site in person.”
We dreamed of enjoying the scenic beauty and elegantly and joyously spending time here, removing all the mundane and instead having the most elegant entertainment. Wayu, interpreted in a modern sense is the main program here. This place, at a size of less than 33m2, is designed for a private stay to achieve our guests’ contemplation with the small yet vibrant garden. While appreciating the garden, guests can soak in warm bath, have a cup of tea and listen to music.
A bed placed lower to the ground, small lamps, a picture scroll, folding screen, bench table that holds a teapot and cups, and eventually the small garden viewable from the bathtub; instruction and visitor’s book, even small items are designed specifically for Nuwa, offering guests the ultimate time for meditation. Alley. Curving alleys that have no trace of artificial touch is the charm of Seoul’s old city center and the image that Seochon represents. Especially Nuwa’s alley, as narrow as your shoulders, intensifies the mysterious and exciting feeling. A small foot bridge of the alley, changing direction as the alley dramatically curves, and lastly the time-enduring gate; all together transform the ordinary village into the space of wayu.
Directing. Intended spatial presentation throughout the interior space encourages customers to use the space and to bring strong awareness to what’s inside. A conventional space design revolved around the concept of openness in consideration of the free movement and user variables. On the other hand, Nuwa wanted to be more involved in suggesting the programs that the space offers so users can experience it. For Nuwa, where its footprint is only 23m2 means the effective use of space will have a stronger impact allowing it to excel in performance compared to other, larger spaces.
Finishing Material. It seemed impossible for Nuwa’s old and run-down building to regenerate the image of Hanok (traditional Korean house), which represents a sense of tradition. However, this means the building a blank canvas, creating the potential to attempt experimental design. Nuwa’s finishing material had to be something that will expand the space awareness of the small place and accentuate every element of the detailed program. Therefore, instead of using various materials, we considered using only one material to finish the floor, wall and a few pieces of built-in furniture.
Furniture and Interior Items. Along with the spirit of wayu embodied in the programs, when space design creates the vibe and the quality of the room, the last crucial piece of the puzzle was furniture, interior items and branding where guests’ skin touches and eyes rest. From a book to a tea cup, the size and location of everything was designed and placed meticulously. Nuwa holds an elegant style from the past but at the same time embraces or redesigns elements of modern convenience such as an electric cooktop, a sink, a fridge, all while minimizing the visual imbalance between past and present.
Branding. The highlight of Nuwa’s design is its branding. Since the concept of stay stands in the vague boundary between the ordinary and the extraordinary, we thought our customers might not be familiar with our direction. Therefore, we took into account the function to guide our intention and the use of the program as well as the logo to be imprinted in their mind. The logo of Nuwa, swaying under the eave where the landscape is captured, is the ultimate peak of space and branding total design that Z_Lab pursues.