Daejeon Oriental Medicine Clinic & Residence / Chung Hyuna

Daejeon is not the first city you think of when contemporary Korean architecture is discussed. This project, therefore was a treat to find. Before I share my thoughts on the building, let me first say that if ever there was a reason for Adobe to invent a tool that could erase parked cars from photos, this would be it. As this is not a photography blog, you’ll excuse the annoying presence of parked sedans in the photos.

The first thing that struck me about the project was how different it was from the other buildings in the neighbourhood. Approaching Banseok, the neighbourhood this clinic/residence is situated in, I was surprised at how “Western” it seemed. Obviously pastiche. As the architect puts it, “The site was located in a place where the superficial newness of a new town and the surrealism of spire roofs seen in fairy tales coexist between commercial districts developed irregularly in neighbourhoods of apartments and vacant lots. It is a place where fictions with indistinguishable time and place are sparsely filled next to the desolate 10-lane road. Shed roofs with ambiguous angles created under groundless guidelines are built in this irregular space in unidentified styles, exacerbated by flashy signboards.” This building is truly refreshing. The lack of unnecessary decoration and neon signage makes this building stand out.

I did not notice it while I was there because the trees now hide the building quite well, however the roof is one of the elements of this building that makes it a true rebel in this neighbourhood. Building regulations require a pitched roof to enforce a “Western” aesthetic. The architect did utilise a pitched roof, but inverted the slope. This ultimately allows more light into the interior.

Overall I like this project for its (mostly) modest design, and the rebellious distortion of building regulations.

Find the building on A Flâneur’s Map. Go see for yourself.