A Machine for Making Babies
Today 80% of Koreans live in apartments. This is a recent phenomenon – the first significant apartment buildings in Korea were only built in the 60s. Such a radical shift in housing patterns occurring over just a few decades has necessarily had a major effect on people’s ways of life and on the structure of the family. Apartment living has resulted in a huge increase in urbanisation and densification, while the particular form of the nuclear family that is now common in Korea is also in part the result of this new, compressed way of living together. The configuration of the apartment is the configuration of a form of life.
Most of the large apartment complexes built in the 70s are now earmarked for redevelopment. What will the designs of the new apartment types be like? If they have had such major cultural ramifications in the past, then surely this question is again an urgent one.
Since 2000, Korea has had the lowest fertility rate among OECD countries. This year, the fertility rate finally fell below one birth per woman – the first and only time this has happened in an OECD country. To put it polemically, no more children are born in Korea. Moreover, 30% of Koreans are a single person household. The marriage rate has dropped and house prices have risen, so, many single people have gone back to live in their parents' house. Currently, the average Korean family unit comprises 2.7 members – two parents and their adult child.
Two parents and children – at first glance this structure seems not to have changed from the past, but in reality, it is completely different. It is no longer so much one family living together as two families in the same tight space – ‘a couple’ and ‘a single person household’. So, the two primary issues that the new apartment must seek to address are the following: a low fertility, ageing population and changes in the workplace.
The new apartment I am suggesting is a shared house in which two or more families (generations) live together. Each unit can keep its own independence by inverting the sequence of a traditional house which is ‘Yard-Entrance-Hallway-Living room-Bedroom’. One proposal is a dwelling unit which has several separate entrances each accessible through private rooms. By simple modification of the order of the space, the hierarchy of the room disappears. The general centralised living room changes into a shared space that is selectively used as needed. The widened corridor and terrace spaces created by the separation of the circulations will be used for various purposes to suit the living patterns of the residents. This is a different means of reinterpretation for the most private and also the smallest collectiveness which a family represents: the true meaning of collectiveness seen through the dwelling unit, which is 'publicness for individuals' and 'privacy for the public'.
School of Architecture
MA Architecture, 2019
- B.Arch, Yonsei University, 2017
- Architectural designer, junya.ishigami+associates, Tokyo, 2015