SUN-YOUNG PARK Interview

Creative to the core and innovative in her approach, Korean architect Sun-young Park was honoured by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism with the ‘2021 Republic of Korea Public Design Award-Grand Prize’ for the magnificent project ‘Dingadong2 – Youth Community Center’.  The honour is truly prestigious in the Korean architectural field. A keen observant and always ready to explore, Sun-young Park has been designing amazing projects ever since she established her own studio O-Scape Architecten in 2014.

Dingadong2 – Youth Community Center

In the year 2003, Sun-young Park graduated from the Chung-ang University, Korea with a Bachelor of Science, Architectural Engineering. Three years later, she completed her Master of Science from the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. Her specialization was ‘Border Condition at Architecture, Urbanism and Architectural Engineering’. She enthuses, “I was fascinated about the Netherlands, which has planned from land use planning to construct buildings for 200 years. So, I decided to study the international Master course of Architecture, Urbanism and Architectural Engineering at Delft University of Technology.” Interestingly, she has also registered as a Licensed Architect in the Netherlands.

From 2007 to 2009, she honed her skills at Foster and Partners’ HQ in London. Having a beautiful Korean heart, Sun-young Park returned to her homeland to join DJH Architects as the Chief Designer in 2009. In the year 2011, she joined Samsung C&T architectural design team to showcase her expertise in various global projects. In the year 2014, she decided it was time for her to branch out. Sun-young Park established her firm O-Scape Architecten in Seoul. In the last 7 plus years, Sun-young Park has made a name for self in the world of architecture with scintillating design creations.

Beautiful Evening View

Sun-young Park speaks to Johnny D at great length about her journey, exploration and success in the world of architecture.

When you look back at your childhood ambition, did you always wanted to be an architect?

I had dreamt of becoming a designer. At first, I wanted to become a fashion designer. However, I was attracted to architecture that drew and made what I thought and imagined, and allowed a large number of people to use it. Here I am (smiles).

When the client states the brief to you in the first meeting, what really goes in your mind?

My mind gets filled with images of various spaces related to the client’s requirements, the current state of the site and the intended use. The first meeting with client(s) is always interesting and insightful as each one is different from the previous ones.

Warm Entrance Door

What was the next step to design the ‘Dingadong2 – Youth Community Center’ project?

O-Scape Architecten started urban research in Jungnang-gu, as a village architect in Seoul in 2019. We paid extra attention to Myeonmokcheon-road – a narrow and long city park extending from north to south, covering Myeonmokcheon Stream in Myeonmok-dong. This ‘Linear Green Space’ drew the possibility of becoming a ‘Green Pedestrian Route’ that connects with Jungnang Stream as the backbone of the city in the future.

Through the analysis that Middle and High School students mainly commute by bus, they identified the way to and from school and suggested a connection between neighborhood parks and Myeonmokcheon Road (Small Village. Park – Linear Green Park). As the first attempt among them, a youth community space was placed on the commuter road, where the use of Myeonmokcheon-road near the bus stop is most active.

Study Area

What were the major challenges you foresaw from the planning stage to the execution of this magnificent project on the real grounds?

Having suggested the site and the program as a village architect, the challenges were to understand the requirements and needs of the students of the area. We conducted the user participatory design workshop with students in Jungnang-gu, and derived the following core design languages. We tried to make those key words come true: ‘Space of Hope’; ‘Space, where we grow with trees’; ‘Natural Materials’; ‘Our own Space’; ‘a Space with a view of our Village’; ‘Stage and Audience’; and ‘Cozy Space’.

Sleek Woodwork

How did your team overcome them creatively as the project progressed?

Since the site was unable to use concrete as the foundation of the building, as the site that covered the river, instead, it was designed as a heavy timber structure (red pine wood) on a granite foundation, while applying the traditional Han-ok (Korean traditional Architecture) foundation method through the case study of Buyongjeong in Changdeokgung Palace.

Nature’s Green View

How would you describe the ‘Elegance of Design’ of the project?

There were a total of three deep-rooted trees around the site. The three decks in the north, east and west directions of the building embrace three decks, so that the building coexists with the trees. As you climb the ramp/stairs to the deck, the tree to the east welcomes the children. Before entering the entrance hall, a round net was placed on the northern round deck to give the impression of floating, thereby providing a beautiful view of the Myeonmokcheon-ro forest road from the deck.

Intelligent Design Elements

When you enter the hallway to take-off your shoes in the front room and step onto the wooden floor, all you can see is wood. Wood gives the much needed warmth to the friendly ambiance. To the north, there is a small stage that the children wanted along with a bookcase that combines lighting from the windows. There are a total of three cones in the building, of which two cones are torn and connected to form the second floor and the other cone is a space floating across the beams and slabs of heavy wood that can fully communicate with the sky and sunlight. Overall, the project has an endless visible ‘line’ forest and we have designed to breathe life into this forest.

Ample of Natural Light

Please mention 5 major ‘Sustainability’ features you incorporated in the project and its significant impact on the project.

– The characteristics of the site are actively reflected in the structure of the building (granite base + wooden structure);

– A design proposal to keep the existing three trees intact without disturbing Nature;

– Suggested structure and finish all in wood;

– Interior design of wooden furniture (desk, light bookshelf, stool, stage);

– Discover design motifs through user participation design.

Bird’s Eye View

What is the total area of the project, estimated cost and time period of the project – design-to-finish?

The total area of the project is 88.60 sq. m. The total project cost was around 400 million won. A 10-month period was utilized for the initial urban research and another 3 months was allocated for User-Participation Design. The design period was around 6 months. We started designing in the month of April 2020 and handed over the project in the month of May 2021.

Standing out in the City Landscape

Briefly explain the conscientious efforts of the civil / structural engineers in this amazing project

Although difficulties in construction were expected for the foundation and structure, they were able to overcome the difficulties through smooth communication with the contractor.

With cities of the world going underwater, is modern architecture equipped to overcome the disastrous climatic effects to make ‘Cities of the Future’ safe and livable? Briefly share your perspective in this aspect.

Project ‘Dingadong2 – Youth Community Center’ is totally sustainable in nature. Both the finish and structure are made of wood, and the members can be dismantled and reused again. Although, it was used for desks in this project as well, ropes made from discarded banners are being used in several projects. Reuse and recycling are probably the areas that architects should think about to overcome the impacts of climate crisis.

Backside View

How would you differentiate Korean Architecture from the Western Architecture?

In Korean Architecture, the relationship between the building and the site is very important. In my opinion, the most significant characteristic of Korean Architecture is to enjoy the outside view from inside the building, rather than the view of the building from the outside.

Beautiful Landscape View

What are the various projects your firm is currently busy with, in various cities and countries?

We won the design competition for a resting place on National Road 42 in Hoengseong, Gangwon-do in Korea. The project is currently in the designing stage. We are also designing a residential house in Yeongheung-do, Incheon. Then there is a multi-family house in Hwaseong-Si. O-Scape Architecten is busy with various projects on hand.

Surrounded by Nature

How would you describe Sun-Young Park as a leader and as a person?

As an architect, I love to create space by discovering architectural types through city observation. I am a cordial person with lots of patience (smiles).

State five recent awards won by O-Scape Architecten.

– 2021: Won the “Hoeng-seong Ucheon Saemal Resting Shelter Design Competition”;

– 2021: ‘Dinga-dong 2- Youth Community Center’ won the 2021 Republic of Korea Public Design Award-Grand Prize (Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Award);

– 2021: Honorable Mention at the Suri Village Community Center competition in Seoul;

– 2019: Awarded the Seoul City Citation as a community housing policy expert;

– 3rd  Prize in design competition for public space creation using the space under the Geum-cheon overpass.

Illuminated View of the Center

Image Courtesy: O-Scape Architecten

Photographer: Hak-hyun Lim

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