Seongbuk Gate Hills Wins 2010 KAA Merit Award

Joel Sanders Architect and Haeahn Architecture Collaborate on Award-Winning Project in Seoul, Korea.
By: J. Robert Kerchner
Jan. 18, 2011 - PRLog -- Seongbuk Gate Hills, a collaboration between Joel Sanders Architect and Haeahn Architecture, has been honored with a Korean Architecture Award 2010 Merit Award. The prestigious award, bestowed annually since 1971, recognizes projects in Korea that strive for harmony between the human and built environment.

Located in the exclusive district of Seongbuk-dong in Seoul, this enclave of 12 private houses is designed to take advantage of its steeply sloping site so that every residence provides generous outdoor space and panoramic views of the majestic landscape. From the scale of the site plan to individual units, the project weaves together building and landscape, natural and synthetic materials, and indoor and outdoor spaces.

The project’s design updates the ancient principle of the “borrowed view,” a compositional technique employed by Asian gardeners to create an impression of continuity between private gardens in the foreground and natural features in the distance. The staggered arrangement of L-shaped dwellings ensures that each unit enjoys unobstructed southern views of a verdant hillside, framed in the foreground by its neighbors’ planted green roof. All roofs are planted with a gridded pattern of four different species of sedum. When viewed from the national park across the valley, the pattern merges to form a dynamic composition that changes with the seasons, blending into the densely wooded mountains surrounding the site.

“Working closely with Haeahn, our multinational design team translated elements of traditional Korean architecture into a contemporary design vocabulary suited to the Korean domestic lifestyle,” said Joel Sanders, Principal of Joel Sanders Architect. The continuous stone wall along the internal street protects the privacy of residents similar to bulwarks that once fortified ancient palaces. In addition, the cantilevered roofs of each unit hover above the winding stone wall in a pattern that recalls the streetscape of a historic Asian city. Inspired by the layout of the “Han-oak,” the vernacular Korean courtyard house, each of the four unit types is organized around two courtyards which extend living areas out of doors and visually link each dwelling with the landscape beyond. From the terraces to the living spaces, the material palette flows seamlessly, blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors.

Upon receiving an invitation to participate in the limited design competition from Taeman Kim, President and CDO of Haeahn, JSA welcomed the opportunity to collaborate. The winning proposal was built by LIG Engineering & Construction. Reflecting on the process, Kim said, “Our collaboration with JSA for this residential project was truly successful because of JSA’s ardent effort in early phases to understand the local Korean lifestyle and culture. JSA followed this up with a steadfast pursuit of solutions that respect local practices, yet provide a fresh outlook on global living for this newly built upscale community.” In the early project phases, JSA spearheaded conceptual design and remained closely involved as Haeahn managed design development and construction administration. The project was completed in May 2010.

Joel Sanders Architect was founded in New York by Joel Sanders in 1989. With a wide range of projects in its portfolio, from residential and institutional interiors to housing and public parks, JSA focuses on creating innovative and sustainable environments in response to today’s rapidly changing culture. Award-winning projects include the House on Mount Merino, Hudson, NY; Yale University Art Gallery Media Lounge, New Haven, CT; Broadway Penthouse, New York, NY; and Gangbuk Grand Park, Seoul, Korea. In addition to the 2010 KAA Merit Award, Seongbuk Gate Hills was also recognized with a 2008 AIA New York Project Merit Award.

Haeahn Architecture is a global design practice with its headquarters office in Seoul, Korea.   Founded in 1990, Haeahn Architecture has been providing design solutions for diverse project types ranging from architectural design for residential, commercial, hospitality and institutional buildings to master planning for mixed-use complexes and urban districts of varying scales.  Haeahn’s close network of global offices enable the firm to deliver award-winning practice results by identifying optimal materials, methodologies and technologies emerging for each project, and integrating them to create indigenous and sustainable solutions tailored to each project.

To learn more about Seongbuk Gate Hills, visit

For further information:
J. Robert Kerchner
Joel Sanders Architect

Project Info:
Location: Seoul, Korea
Client: LIG Engineering & Construction
Size: 8,000 sm, 2 acres, 86,111 sf
Units: 12 at 3,000 sf each
Completed: May 2010

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With a wide range of award-winning projects in its portfolio, from residential and commercial interiors to housing and public parks, Joel Sanders Architect creates innovative and sustainable environments in response to today's rapidly changing culture.
Source:J. Robert Kerchner
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Tags:Joel Sanders Architect, Haeahn Architecture, Green Roofs, Borrowed Views, Han-oak, Korea, Sustainability, Contemporary
Industry:Architecture, Environment, Real Estate
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