The three little buildings, a roof, and a garden.

Just like us, plants grow and buildings age.

The process of decay in this particular case was natural. Concrete roof tiles fell into the building as purlins eroded and timber frames rotted away. Due to these structural damages, the roof opened up to the sky, and the floor reverted to earth. These three buildings, once used as a dormitory for factory workers, were abandoned as nearby factories closed down. In a shrinking town, on a distressed building, humans were gradually replaced by wild plants. This decay gradually transformed the site into an interior garden, providing a sanctuary for plants.

In our effort to breathe new life into this site, we opened up the ground, walls, and roofs to rearrange human and plant space by inserting a new roof structure that liberates the existing buildings from its structural, MEP, HVAC burdens.

The three rectangular-shaped buildings stood parallel to one another. The thickest building on the northern side served as the home for the family who managed the dorm, while the other two slender buildings, one with three units in the middle and the other with four units on the southern end, housed factory workers and their families. The small unit sizes (12 sqm) and the close proximity of the buildings (1.2m) made it impractical to fully maintain the existing structure for modern-day use. Instead, we systematically demolished sections of the walls and roof to allow for better air circulation, sunlight penetration, opportunities for plant growth, and spaces for people to roam.

After partially deconstructing the buildings, new columns and roof structures were installed. The northern building, now a café, is the only fully interiorized space, insulated and climate-controlled. In the middle building, all walls were removed except for the two exterior sides. We excavated the ground further to create a sunken garden, providing an open-air space for trees and grass to thrive. The southern building had its interior walls preserved, but the ones facing the middle building and the vacant lot were demolished. The dormitory units were then transformed into raised floor seating. To connect the existing buildings, we constructed an elongated pathway on the eastern end of the site.

Through the systematic demolition of the original structures and the introduction of a roof system, we created a new interface that integrates plants, humans, and the built environment.


Status: Built, 2023
Location: Jeonju, Korea
Client: City of Jeonju, glowseoul
Photo Credit: Jang Mi 

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