Before and After: From Drab to Delightful

April Kennedy April Kennedy
IEUNG Architect Modern balcony, veranda & terrace
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This dramatic transformation project showcases a striking approach to raw materials and experimental design. The property lies on the borders of Mount Inwangsan, a scenic area outside the South Korean capital of Seoul.

The property has some lovely green surroundings, but is also set on a very steep incline in an otherwise densely built up urban area. In short, there isn't a lot of room to move. To add to the challenge, the building was completely run down and uninhabitable. It might seem natural then to completely rip down the old walls and create a radically new facade. But as the designers Ieung Architects have demonstrated, sometimes the greatest constraints fuel the greatest innovation. So, before we give too much away, come with us to explore this very unique home!

Before: a completely run-down exterior

The original exterior was extremely run down and in dire need of work. The patchwork of windows is out-dated, conservative and there is little sense of connection with the natural surroundings. At the same time, the essential configuration with a strong upper level was quite sturdy and well set up to take in the best natural light.

After: a neat, natural facade

The new exterior has a neat, natural look. The windows running along the central area have been eliminated and we now have one window on the left and an almost floor to ceiling area of glass to the right. The exterior also has more variation with the addition of a few minimalist panels in white. Finally, pale timber cladding really highlights the natural feel of the area. This is one new exterior with a completely contemporary, fresh and welcoming feel.

Before: a courtyard in ruins

The courtyard was in a sorry state. While there must have been some exit walkway, there is little now but the scarce remains of a garden and piles of rubble. But even when this building was in a happier state, it's clear that the walls of the original structure were fairly closed off from the outdoor areas. There is no direct and open relationship between these two spaces.

After: a naturally integrated space

The new courtyard is obviously a vast improvement. A beautiful timber walkway now runs around the perimeter of the space, linking the main structure to the smaller one on the right. We will explore the smaller structure in a moment, but for now, note how the small windows have been replaced with floor to ceiling glass doors. These add a whole new connection to the outdoor space. To accentuate the natural ambience, the small wood panels have completely been refreshed with vibrant, richly stained timber panels.

After: an outdoor deck for contemplation

The edge of the walkway we explored earlier morphs into this lovely square timber deck. This is of course the connection point to the lower part of the little house. This deck enjoys close proximity to a tree, natural timber surroundings and lots of privacy. There is no fencing or furnishings and it has a very organic, low-maintenance rustic feel. It's the perfect outdoor place to enjoy a little solitude or contemplate the tranquillity of nature.

Before: a dilapidated interior

If we look beyond the squalor of the living area here, we can see a solid room with great potential. There is decent natural light but of course, no real connection to the outdoor spaces. The walls are solid but there is little use of natural materials and of course the windows and finishes are in dire need of renewal.

After: a naturally connected living room

The new naturally connected living room is a place of great splendour. The large and wide new window beautifully frames the tree outside and the wooden walls really accentuate this relationship. At the same time, we also get our first glimpse of the raw materials that will define the interior so strongly throughout this home. The pure appreciation for raw materials is shown here through the rough plywood walls, raw concrete floors and rough stone accents. Finally, the quirky recessed lights are another feature we will explore more in a moment.

After: a quirky, contemporary space

If you appreciate raw materials, you'll definitely love this quirky living room. Brick walls, plywood ceilings and odd light fittings make this an entirely unique living room. The beauty of raw materials is that they infuse a very minimal space with instant character and subtle warmth. At the same, the subtle colour scheme allows for all sorts of experimentation like this. What might be over the top in a more polished home comes across as playful and quietly quirky. Just look at the steps leading up to the platform—most of the steps aren't even regularly shaped!

After: unusual ceiling features

The unusual walls in this child's bedroom resemble the paper of a bark tree. The soft, warped surface possesses the kind of natural variation often seen in nature. This all of course give the room a forest light feel. To add to the curiosity, the white ceiling reaches down to cover the upper portion of the walls like an envelope. This has been used to hide golden recessed lighting. It's a curious child's bedroom, but one that many a child would love to explore.

After: a study in raw materials

In the minimalist kitchen, the raw materials really shine. The entire ambience is quite soft and calming, yet there's an incredible variety of raw materials on offer here. Directly in front, we have some grey walls with an undulating surface that resembles tree bark. We also have a golden timber ceiling beam, timber floors, a smooth white ceiling, a smattering of damaged red bricks and even some painted white bricks in the background. It all works together however because of the colour scheme and the minimalist design.

No matter what your taste, we hope you enjoyed this curious home! If you're a fan of quirky home designs, you'll love A Japanese Home with Stunning Wood Interiors.

What do you think of this unusual wooden home? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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