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Published: Monday, September 04, 2006

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Hangil Book House

Moulding and twisting wood into warped planes that defy the reality of the material, ShoP architects create a continuum of visuals and experiences within the Hangil Book House, only to further weave the building into its context.

By: SHoP Architects PC

Architecture-Page | Hangil Book House by SHoP Architects
Wooden screening filters light into the interiors whilst affording delightful views into the surround

Project Details

  • Project Name: Hangil Book House
  • Client: Hangil Publishing Company
  • Location of site: Heyri Art Valley, Seoul, South Korea
  • Principal Designers: Christopher R. Sharples, William W. Sharples, Coren D. Sharples, Kimberly J. Holden, Gregg A. Pasquarelli (SHoP) + Jun Sung Kim (Himma)
  • Project Manager: Richard Garber
  • Project Team: Yongmoo Heo, Christopher Whitelaw + Young-il Park, Chang-hoon Shin, Mak-sun Ko, Young-Jin Lee (Himma)
  • Contractor: Hanool
  • Date of commencement of project (actual or projected date): Spring 2003
  • Date of completion of project (actual or projected date): July 2004
  • Built-up Area: 18,000 Sq. Feet
  • Program: Exhibition Hall, museum bookstore, cafe
  • Cost of Construction: $3.6 million

Architecture-Page | Hangil Book House by SHoP Architects
View of the Book House in the Heyri Art Valley

The Building

SHoP Architects were commissioned in fall 2001 to design a building in the Heyri Art Valley - one hour north of Seoul, South Korea in the city of Paju.

Located at the base of one of the six hills defining the Art Park is the Hangil Book Hall for Hangil Publishing, a premier publisher of art and philosophy books in Korea.

Architecture-Page | Hangil Book House by SHoP Architects
A warping fabric of wood culminating at the roof creates a connect between the book house and its natural surroundings

The Art Park is interlaced with roads and paths, which weave the disparate sections of the complex into a natural whole. The path thus becomes an important extension of the landscape and blends the experience of the architecture into its natural surrounding.

Conceived as a built landscape itself, the Book House is divided into two distinct zones: a vertical bar connected to the outdoor reading space on the hillside and a large hall housing mixed use programs, namely a restaurant, performance and exhibition spaces and a large plaza.

Hangil Book House - Floor Plan [opens in a popup window - 56KB image]

Architecture-Page | Hangil Book House by SHoP Architects
View of the Vertical Bar space with its book wall

The vertical bar encloses a 3-storey book wall with ramps.

A wood planked pathway extends into the building and wraps itself around this wall forming the spine of the bar and linking the Book House to the surrounding hillside.

This path forms a continuous line of movement merging a variety of different programs into a seamless sequence of visuals and experiences.

Light streams in through the pixilated book wall from a clearstory window running along its length, offering delightful views into the surround.

Anchoring each landing of the ramp is a different reading space.

Upon climbing the first ramp for instance, one enters into the children's reading room with its views of a shallow pool enclosed by concrete retaining walls.

Architecture-Page | Hangil Book House by SHoP Architects
A wooden plane folds over the exhibition hall to form an undulating wood surface on the roof of the building

A thickened scrim composed of multiple layers of baleen like strips of dark stained 'ipe' wood forms a continuous concave wood surface that folds over the exhibition hall.

A landscape of benches and reclining surfaces have been incorporated within this "dynamic density" of wood, to heighten the seamless relationship between the built and the natural.

Architecture-Page | Hangil Book House by SHoP Architects
View of the restaurant

The Heyri Art Valley project is pioneered by local firm M.A.R.U. (Metropolitan Architecture Research Unit) on land comprising of six hills and valleys with variation in its topography of up to 94 meters.

Operating at multiple scales, the village will transform into a 24-hour community committed to the production and exhibition of art and art related activities.

Studio residences, exhibition and concert halls, commercial film studios and museums to be constructed here are included in the master plan of the area.


  • Text: Courtesy, the architect
  • Photographs by Seong Kwon, courtesy of SHoP Architects
  • Compiled and edited by Varun M. Ajani

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