Gwangjoo, Kyungkido, South Korea
completion on July 2013
ELECTRONIC / MECHANIC
Among the southern hills of Gwangju City’s Mun-hyung Mt. in Gyeong-gi Province of South Korea, amidst an eclectic collection of auto maintenance shops and container-style stores, a factory building has stood for 20 years with its sandwich panels and blue-slate roof. The building’s owner has taken full advantage of the industrial aspect of the setting, having converted the factory into a culture center, combining a coffee roastery, an education center for brewing, and an in-house cafe into the factory’s operations.
The business model of combining coffee production and sales (the “software”) in such limited space (the “hardware”) proffered an interesting opportunity to architecturally express the software-hardware dichotomy. As such, the entrance was designed after a city alleyway, inspired by the familiar look of the metropolitan sprawl, made up of individuated buildings and the alleys among them. As it stands, the alleyway entrance is evocative of Platform 9 3/4 of King’s Cross Station, a lone path out of the block of factories and car repair shops, leading to a new, magic school-like place.
The entrance extends into the building and spans the length of the storage/roastery and the barista’s center of operation (home?). Across the entrance from the roastery is a sunny patio with a terrace overlooking it. The bathroom block, which resembles a cottage house, is accessed through another indoor alleyway. Such was the design principle behind Open Alley: a series of alleys opening up through the common medium of coffee.
A simple gable roof and grey composite panels (EPS) were used for the exterior of the building in keeping with the look of the surrounding factories. In order to emphasize the plainness the caps (?) of the corners were minimized. The rain gutters and downpipes were hidden from view. The interior was completed with red bricks, warm woods, and shiny metals. The ceiling is painted white and a skylight is installed to mimic the effect of sunrays breaking through a summery sky. As well, floor objects throughout represent sights reminiscent of alleyways.