This Epic South Korean Mansion Blends Modern Lines with Traditional Accents

Establishing a prominent cultural voice in architecture is a challenge. If a structure looks too traditional or ancestral, it risks not suiting today’s world. Yet a lot of contemporary designs struggle with being too derivative — it’s never a good sign when you’re scrolling through Instagram and can’t tell if a minimalistic vacation home is in Mauritius or Bora Bora.

Dubbed “Ga On Jai,” this sprawling home is located on a monumental site in Seongnam, South Korea, which was why lead architect HyoMan Kim felt it was important to showcase Korean identity. The roof borrows from traditional architecture, but refined down to a sleek, modern aesthetic. It acts as a hutch for what lies beneath — an exquisite courtyard inspired by the neighbouring mountains — and surrounded by living quarters; also customary of East Asian homes from past.

The courtyard and interiors are intricately connected on several different levels, which makes a stroll through the house a winding, inimitable experience. A fine balance between reviving the old and challenging the new assures this home’s relevance in Korean culture for years to come.

Photography: Sergio Pirrone, Jong Oh Kim / IROJE KHM Architects