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Camouflage - The Shock Absorber

Part 1 Project 2009
Gaeun Kim
Korea National University of Arts Seoul South Korea
The Vicious Circle: Unbalanced situation between individual privacy and public security system - such as increasing security cameras violate personal privacy - will become a serious issue in urban society. Those two are essential elements in a city, but at the same time they come into conflict. The project is about the re-balancing between the security machine and the individual privacy, without limit of time and place.

Camouflage: A spontaneous defensive strategy, present in certain natural intelligence, reoccurring in the clash of the ‘public system’ and the individual privacy. By the way of self-representation, scanning one's appearance and distortingit in free degrees, one can let other people recognize oneself within self-determined parameters.

Self-Representation: The project consists out of two parts. The first one was to find an architectural method to develop the idea, focusing on privacy in the public space – a structure which is portable and acquires a new identity when more than two individuals relate together.

‘Boarding’-House: The second part was to find an actual contextwhere the clash between the city and the individual has a physical representation. As a site I chose a huge retaining wall, a cliff cut from a mountain near Donam-dong in Seoul to provide flat land for apartment buildings. I applied my thoughts on privacy and self-representation in this urban non-place.
The building has camouflage effect by blending with the wall and imprinting texture from the context, and also works as an emulsifier between structure and land. Focusing on the flow of the wall (site), the structure is screwed onto the wall, merging with the wall rather than tearing it apart.
The vertical repetition of floor plates in highly urbanized city contrasts sharply with the indigenous environment. In such an area with considerable density, my project offers a structure which is able to expand horizontally and vertically at the same time suitable to the configuration of the ground.

Gaeun Kim

"The medium is the message." (Marshall McLuhan), ‘existence’ within a city, are we the city or is the city around us? "Are you still dwelling or already living?" (Ikea slogan), ‘living’ beyond typology, from concept to program, to construction, to material, to space … to concept? architecture is our medium, do you have a message?

In my Intermediate Studio 2008 the students were confronted with a rather abstract task "From the House of the Future to the House of Today" giving as only framework requirement habitation or dwelling in its larger sense in Seoul, Korea.
As a fist design task ‘the house of the future’ they had to design/ think / write / envision an urban dwelling as it could be in a possible future considering sociological, technical and urbanistic developments. The focus was lying on innovative approaches towards living.
These considerations led to the main task ‘the house of today.’ The students had to make up an actual scheme for a ‘place to exist in’ implanted into the urban fabric of Seoul. Specific program, site context and concept were determined due to the results of their research in the first part.

Gaun Kim solved this task in an exceptional way. Her interest in privacy issues in the public sphere, surveillance and self-representation concluded for the pre-project in camouflage techniques as extension of the private into the public, one-to-one scale privacy devices as wearable dwellings.
This libertine approach of re-thinking the limits and means of ‘architecture’ she brought into her main project by choosing a vertical site(!), a massive retraining wall. Without any reference she developed a unique topology utilizing this wall for dwelling from organization to construction to materiality following her concept.
Her final results fascinates by her experimental approach, her desire to bring her thinking into an actual physical materiality, as in the pre-project by experimenting with fabrics, by actually producing real glass-blocks for the façade imprinting found patterns at the site. She managed to bring her conceptual thinking into architectural design, not being afraid of going into unknown terrain.

Prof Christian Schweitzer
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