OBBA: Beyond the Screen

A mixed-use building in Seoul by OBBA architects uses a brick screen to ensure natural ventilation light and privacy to the dwellers.

OBBA, Beyond the Screen
The existing condition of this residential neighbourhood is not different from most other neighbourhoods, with multi-plex housing having held the majority.
The building sits at a corner and is formed by a cutting and shaping of the volume due to the site regulations such as setback lines and natural light requirements. The outer appearance is a single mass but the building is actually two masses bridged by a semi-exterior central stairwell with a unique brick screen to the front and back, forming an H-shaped plan, with a stagered floor structure from east to west. This five-story building incorporates both residential and commercial functions – the first floor with a café and a pilotis parking space, and from the second to the fifth floor, four different unit types making up 14 different units.
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
Upon entering the building, one encounters the courtyard with a semi-exterior stairwell that provides access to each of the 14 units, with a unique brick screen to the front and back. This screen filters the view into the building from the front, while allowing for the right amount of natural light and ventilation, creating a far more pleasant atmosphere in and around the stairwell. The sunlight that filters through the bricks makes the courtyard a pleasant area that changes throughout the day, every day.  
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
By splitting the building into two volumes, it allows all of the units to have 3 open sides, maximizing the natural cross ventilation throughout. The roof garden is open to the sky, with a parapet wall at full-floor height, creating a private communal space for the residents. The brick screen walls, in their orderly staggered stacking construction, allow for privacy from the exterior gaze of the adjacent buildings into the semi-exterior, semi-public core of the building. This filter is applied, not only in the central core zone, but also at specific moments where the building closely faces adjacent buildings. This adds to the privacy of each unit, while allowing for the residents of each unit the flexibility in ventilation, allowing each unit to breathe naturally.
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
The design also takes into consideration the client’s point of view, with an attempt to satisfy cost efficiency and profitability through quality design. The skipped floor structure allows residents to enter their units directly from the stair landings, eliminating unnecessary, dead public hallway space. With a limited construction budget, but aiming to satisfy all of the essentials for living, the design of the building and the units focused the absolute necessities, without being superfluous with custom materials and built-in furniture, with quality materials and economical fixtures.
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
There was a need to find a new architectural solution for the unexpected and unplanned. It is quite common for residential buildings to attach and expose air conditioning equipment on the exterior of the building: all four elevations of the building, spaces were allotted for such equipment into the overall plan of the building, as well as an application of the brick screen system for ventilation and air circulation for HVAC. To avoid illegal additions and extensions to the original design of the building in the future, which is a common practice in Korea, there was a great focus in efficient spatial planning and design to allow for longevity in the initial design intentions and the spatial organization of the building.  
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul
OBBA, Beyond the Screen, Seoul

Beyond the Screen
, Seoul, South Korea
: OBBA (Sojung Lee & Sangjoon Kwak)
Structural Engineer
: TEO Structure
MEP Engineer
: Wonwoo Engineering
Building contractor
: YIINSIGAK; Structure RC; Finish Brick, Dryvit
Site Area
: 427.24 m2
Site Coverage Area: 128.08 m2
Completion: 2013


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