The rebirth of East Asian timber in a rural house in South Korea

When timber resources were depleted during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, the culture of timber stopped. Studio JK-AR fantasizes of a new construction through digital computation and digital fabrication.

Architects JK-AR imagined a new way of enhancing forgotten construction techniques and contemporary computational skills in rural houses in South Korea. The House of the Three Trees is the manifestation of the studio’s architectural fantasy of reviving East Asian timber architecture that has disappeared 100 years ago, when – during the late Joseon Dynasty in Korea from the 17th to the 19th centuries – timber resources were depleted. The system, known as Gong-po in Korea and Dougong in China, is solely made with wooden joinery.

The making of The House of Three Trees

The house is hexagonally shaped and hosts three tree-shaped structures to support a pitched roof made of sandwich panels with asphalt shigles that improve water drainage. The materials used are the ones most commonly used in South Korea’s rural areas, such as the corrugated polycarbonate and plywood panels for the perimeter walls. The overall translucency gives an ethereal touch to the building, while indoor light is provided by a perimetral skylight and large wall openings. The interiors are treated with a gypsum white wall and local larch plywood with paint coating on the floor.

The timber structure recalls a dense forest made of 4,006 CNC cut wooden elements that do not require any use of fasteners or nails. “The house criticizes today’s application of traditional buildings that is superficial, merely imitating traditional expressions in architecture, or too abstract,” declares JK-AR. “Rather, the house redefines the virtue of East Asian timber buildings in its tectonic aspect which is a combination of structure and ornamentation.”

The House of Three Trees
single-family house
Jae K. Kim, Seoungbum Heo, Yesol Lee, Youngjune Lee
Site area:
271 sqm
Built area:
68.58 sqm
6.35 m
Structural engineering:
Jae K. Kim, Seoungbum Heo, Yesol Lee, Minho Kim, Jinho Shin (JK-AR) + Myunghee Nam

Latest on Architecture

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram