Friday, December 8, 2023

His Architect Mentioned the Web site Was No Good, So He Constructed the Challenge Himself


Anybody who has an urge to design a home however lacks architectural coaching ought to take braveness from Hun-Chung Lee.

Twenty years in the past, Mr. Lee, a South Korean ceramics artist, spent about $200,000 on a tilted piece of land in Yangpyeong County, an hour east of Seoul, with the intention of constructing a studio there.

He started in an orthodox trend, asking an architect pal to design the construction. However when the pal noticed the 1.6-acre wooded website, he suggested Mr. Lee to unload­­ it instantly. The slope was too steep, and the orientation — dealing with away from the solar — too chilly.

No arduous emotions, Mr. Lee informed him. He would do the job himself.

“I knew tips on how to use a desk noticed,” he stated, talking in a latest video name from Yangpyeong. “I knew concerning the welding from once I studied sculpture.”

Dry wall? He would determine tips on how to set up it and would research the intricacies of poured concrete whereas he was at it. “I constructed clay sculptures, so I understood about gravity,” he stated.

What advanced over a number of years was a trio of buildings — a small home, a studio and a gallery — assembled with an ornery ardour for difficult supplies and a respect for the unpredictability of course of. The mountain refuge is structure, sure, however put collectively in a means that few architects or builders might tolerate.

When designing it, Mr. Lee, now 56, had much less regard for effectivity than for the perfection of window positions, which he modified a number of instances, to the despair of his employees. He insisted on utilizing a metallic put up that had initially propped up a freeway signal as a column in his studio. (Extra groaning.) He was not involved with consolation a lot as the great thing about bare concrete, insulating the home solely from the outside and relying closely on a wooden range and heated flooring in winter.

The buildings, in different phrases, are glorified artworks, considerably larger than the oversize ceramic items for which he’s identified — primarily based on Korean Buncheong ware, wherein darkish clay is uncovered below a coat of skinny slip — however assembled in an analogous spirit of frank materiality.

They “aren’t painted brown or lined in moss, however by some means they’ve a dialogue with the bushes and the encircling space that’s beautiful,” stated Nina Freudenberger, who included the mission in her new guide, “Mountain Home: Research in Elevated Design.”

Ms. Freudenberger, a German-born inside designer, got down to doc mountain retreats that have been filled with extra curiosity than afancy ski home in Colorado with a flokati rug,” as she put it.

“I’ve at all times been fascinated when folks select places which might be a problem,” she stated, including that she understood the sights of gorgeous views and immersion in nature, however that there was one thing about the best way “creativity blossoms” when one builds and lives at excessive altitudes.

The Lee chapter concentrates on the residential a part of the artist’s compound, which he named Bada Camp A. (“Bada,” which suggests ocean, refers to childhood journeys to the seaside Mr. Lee made along with his father, who died after a protracted sickness when the artist was in his teenagers. Bada Camp B is the artist’s main residence in Seoul.)

The home is 1,000 sq. toes on three ranges. On the high are two bedrooms. On the base is a personal space the place Mr. Lee reads, listens to music and attracts. Sandwiched between them is a kitchen and eating space with perforated-concrete partitions, knotty-wood flooring planks, and uncovered wooden and metal beams.

This main-level area opens to a glass-walled addition, exploiting the mountain surroundings. The furnishings embody George Nakashima chairs blended with a ceramic desk and seats that have been pulled out of Mr. Lee’s personal kiln.

“Each nook the place we regarded was one thing extremely stunning,” Ms. Freudenberger stated, prizing the “handmade nature” of the furnishings, though noting that “to be sincere these chairs and stools weren’t comfy.”

Rustic touches like erratically spaced floorboards that had clearly been nailed down by hand decreased the concrete’s austerity and made it “really feel a lot extra pure,” she stated.

Evan Snyderman, a founding father of the New York design gallery R & Firm, which represents Mr. Lee, has visited the home greater than as soon as. He, too, was shocked by its intimacy and heat: “If you consider concrete, you consider this chilly, arduous materials,” he stated, however it’s offset by “this imperfection constructed into the best way the home is made.”

Mr. Lee, who additionally has a studio in Los Angeles, stated the design and development of the mountain complicated was the work of a younger and financially straitened ceramist, who turned out cups and bowls for resorts to pay the payments. Now that he can produce massive artwork items with the assistance of assistants, he stated, he has successfully grow to be an orchestra conductor moderately than a soloist.

Which is why he’s turning extra to portray. “With clay and concrete and wooden, that’s like arguing with the fabric; we have to use our muscle,” he stated. As a result of portray entails much less exertion, the connection with the medium is extra intimate.

He want to add yet one more constructing to the complicated, a high-ceilinged portray studio.

“My spouse hates that concept,” he stated.

Dwelling Small is a biweekly column exploring what it takes to guide a less complicated, extra sustainable or extra compact life.

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