Element House
Anyang, Seoul, South Korea
37°25'06.2"N 126°55'13.2"E

Hiking Shelter
Completed 2006


In the Seoul metropolitan area there is a satellite city called Anyang, a small, by Korean standards, suburban town with 700,000 inhabitants. The city decided to invite several international architects and artists to participate in the design of a new park. The project, called Anyang Public Art Park, relates to the concept of art and architecture parks in Japan, the largest of which is Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial area in Niigata.

Following the Korean life rhythm and style, the timetable was very tight. Planning started already while choosing the site. Sketches were to be delivered the next day. Due to the rushing, we had difficulties to follow the constant changes in our drawings. Luckily, we could redo some of the important details later while working on the construction site.

The park is situated in a river valley. The building itself is standing on top of a small forest hill, along an outdoor route leading to the maintains in the far end of the park. The main space is a larger steel cube. Four smaller wooden rooms are connected to this space in different floors. In each of these small rooms there is the presence of one nature element. In the basement, water, in the courtyard, earth, in the first floor, fire, and in the attic, air.

On a practical level, the idea of the work is to offer a simple shelter where the hikers may rest, enjoy their lunch, have a view over the mountains, or a light a stick of incense. For this purpose, Norwegian artist John Roger Holte has crafted a platform and storage for the incense out of colored concrete. This habit relates to the history of the valley as an important Buddhist retreat. There used to be many temples situated on the mountain area, only few of which are left today. However, we were told that there are even older shamanistic rituals left, and services available if needed.

The main building materials are steel and wood. Concrete has been used in the basement and foundation. Openings are covered with safety class, and floors with jade and marble gravel, with different stone types and colors in each space.

Seoul is an immense urban area that is growing fast, which is visible in the condition of the surroundings. Constant noise, packed motorways, endless rows of cloned blocks of flats, and ever prevailing smog create a tough place for living things. We hope that this small building at the edge of the city and forest can offer some contrasting atmospheres.

Design Team
Sami Rintala

Landscape Architects
Eedo Space Architectural Design

John Roger Holte, Artist

Finnforest, Wood


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