Earth House – BCHO Architects
Earth House was a unique house of the sky and was built in honor of Yoon Dong-joo, a Korean poet who wrote beautiful poems about the sky, the Earth, and the stars.
It was focused on the primal relationship between nature and humans. The 14m x 17m concrete box was buried in the ground. There were 6, 1-pyeong, rooms and two earth filled courtyards. The ‘small house’ was open to the courtyard which was open to the sky. For an adult to lie down straight, the one pyeong rooms originated from the size of one kan (6×6 ja; 1 ja = approx. 30cm). There were a small kitchen, a study, two resting rooms, a bathroom with a wooden tub and toilet, and a wash room. The rooms were all adjacent to each other and open directly to the earth filled courtyard.
Creating a bigger room, connecting rooms could be joined. The house doors were small; entering the house made your body into a smaller shape. Retaining wall and a flat roof and base plate, thick concrete resisted the lateral pressure from the earth on four sides. It was also had a hidden steel column in the center wall that reinforced the structural plates. Rammed Earth walls, all the interior spatial divisions and the walls facing both courtyards were provided.
Four gutters were in the corners of the courtyard for drainage. A geothermal cooling system with a radiant floor heating system under the rammed clay and concrete floor was used. To heat the small gravel under the floor, off-peak electricity was used at night. Keeping the temperature cool in summer and warm in winter, a combination of passive cooling and geothermal tubes were buried in the earth. A pine tree was sliced into 80mm thick discs. It was cast into the concrete walls of the courtyard. The wooden canopy protecting the entrance into the small house used 39mm tensile wires. Recycled lumber was cut into 30mm x 50mm wide pieces and joined with flat steel bar to keep the material to a minimum. Recycled wood from old Korean gates covered all of the interior furniture and closets. As Yoon’s poetry, this Earth House was hoped to be a house where we could reflect on ‘ourselves’ while living in the present era.
This house buried in the ground in Seoul, Korea, was completed by BCHO Architects. Called Earth House, to honor the late Korean poet Yoon Dong-joo, the house design was built. There were two courtyards with earth floors, to which all rooms were connected. Use of the excavated earth was made by rammed-earth walls while wood from a pine tree from the site was embedded in the concrete courtyard walls. Photographs were by Wooseop Hwang.