Seoul, KR




Labyrinthos is a structure from Greek mythology. It is a place created by a skillful craftsman, Daedalus, for King Minos of Crete, and is also the etymology of the word "labyrinth." A labyrinth is a place where you get lost. There, people panic and despair, losing their sense of direction and position. Therefore, labyrinths are compared to life and symbolize knowledge that is trapped in themselves. Some think that labyrinths represent our lives.

 This house was designed for clients who wanted a house that was as complicated as a labyrinth. The client is a young couple raising two sons, who wanted to secure their own independent territory. The house had to incorporate the different activities among family members. The wife was active and cheerful, enjoying extreme sports such as climbing, while the husband was an introvert, enjoying sports broadcasting on TV. They wanted space where they are not interfered in pursuing each activity but allow chance encounters in-between. We naturally recalled the composition of the labyrinth.

 Including family members and guests, five bedrooms, kitchen, restaurant, living room, hidden yard, and studio were needed. First, the rooms of sons and mothers with similar hobbies were placed deep inside the first floor with a kitchen and a dining space. Each room has a vertically hidden space like an attic. And Father's room and family room, which he wants to enjoy his hobby alone, were placed on the second floor separately. In addition, the guest room was provided with an independent staircase that can be directly entered from the outside.

 The site had two difficulties. A high-rise apartment complex in the south, was disadvantageous to lighting conditions, and it was necessary to consider numerous peeping eyes toward the house from the complex. There is also a walkway between the land and the apartment complex, higher than the site, so we had to consider drainage and noise from the walkway.

 Since the shape of the land was also atypical, the orientation of the house was another issue. The north elevation with entrance connected to the promenade has only the necessary openings, making the architecture reserved. For the south elevation, we designed a free-standing wall to block the gaze and structurally support the outside stairs but created a gap to allow room for lighting. The outer stairs beginning from the ground floor stops at second floor, then reaches the rooftop and from the rooftop it is connected to indoors through the attic.

 Since there are several routes to and from the house inside and out, family members can engage in independent activities without interference from each other. The lower part of the free-standing wall surrounding the yard is also used as a space for children and mothers to enjoy climbing. The ground has hard finishes for exercise purpose. Each child has an attic in their own rooms, the mother has her own garden, and the father has an independent living room.

 The room within the room, the road within the road, the yard within the yard... The complex interior, such as an attic where stairs and rooms are connected without boundaries, is not recognized at all from the outside. The modern "Labyrinthos" is a house that is complex in appearance but has clear functions for the inhabitants.

 A large-scale apartment complex continues to be built around the house, a castle like apartments with rooms and corridors leading to a similar living conditions. For Theseus, who explored the labyrinth of the past, the modern Korean apartments might be more complex labyrinths.

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Status: Built
Location: Paju, KR
Firm Role: architect
Additional Credits: Architect : Hyoungnam Lim, Eunjoo Roh in studio_GAON
Project Team : Laeyeon Kim, Minwoo Lee, Seongwon Son
Construction : Syshome
Supervision : studio_GAON
Photographs : Youngchae Park