SFS_ES library_3S7A2054 (Custom)

SFS Elementary School Library

Seoul, Korea | 2019
[ AIA International Region Award | SPACE magazine feature | 매일경제 News  ]

The design for this International elementary school library blends flexibility with specificity, addressing the scales of growing children through the careful integration of architecture, furniture, and learning materials. Prior to renovation, the library functioned as a generic repository for books and desks without regard for how children learn. Even as the existing building offered a high floor-to-ceiling volume, the upper and lower portions of the curtain wall were covered creating a low, pancake-like interior.

Through addressing the vertical dimensions at the personal scale, an ecosystem of customizable spaces for children and adults is created. The odd outline of the existing floor-plate was taken as a starting-point clue. The north circular envelope now houses a more free-form area connoting ideas of an urban park. Modular and moveable semi-circular shelving offer various spaces where parents, teachers, and children can learn in groups. Next to the glazing, a hammock mezzanine blends the playground with the library: The space underneath is canopy-like, while above, children can imagine floating above the clouds.

On the south side, the rectangular envelope lends itself to a more dense ‘city block’ feel. Book stacks with integrated desks act as reconfigurable building blocks for individual and collective study areas. Rising above this urban field, four reading towers further trigger the imagination of a micro-urban experience. Their forms intentionally reference historical structures connecting the library with future memories. Finally, a large conference room with folding partitions can either extend the library’s activities or close off into a private realm for teacher meetings.

SFS_ES library_3S7A1906 (Custom)
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EXPANDED ENTRY
As a welcoming gesture, the entry is expanded through mirroring the entry arch with stainless steel panels. Directly in front, the view connects to the campus beyond.
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The half-arch is reflected in a a mirrored stainless wall expanding the space and bringing in daylighting.
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ROOMS WITHIN ROOMS
Smaller scale ‘rooms’ are can be created from the modular shelving and seating
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HAMMOCK TOWERS
A series of towers support the hammock, providing reading niches while referenciong historical structures
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PLAYFUL COMPLEXITY
The reading mezzanines can trigger the imagination through colors and spatial intersections
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EXISTING LIBRARY
Generic shelving and desks were not specific to children’s daily use
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RENOVATED LIBRARY
Taking a clue from the existing envelope, a casual circular zone referencing the ‘park’ and an more formal rectangular zone referencing the ‘city’ offer diverse social and learning ecosystems
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BUILDINGS WITHIN BUILDINGS
The furniture is conceived of as ‘urban’ entities that offer diverse social uses
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SFS_ES library_3S7A1920 (Custom)
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The low pancake-like horizontal space did not leverage potential views or vertical scales (left). HVAC systems were reconfigured into more energy and space efficient layouts allowing for mezzanine areas (right).
SFS_ES library_3S7A2030 (Custom)
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MODULAR FLEXIBILITY
Book shelves and seating designed as quarter-circle modules along with nested stacks and desks can easily be moved to support different social configurations
section diagram
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DIVERSITY AND UNIVERSAL ACCESS
Like notes on a musical scale, the concept of universal access is expanded so that children of all sizes can have equivalent experiences of the library
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SPATIAL AND PROGRAM EXPANSION
Through a sliding door system, a multi-use conference room can be opened up to become a learning space and a ‘green room’ for filming videos
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NESTED MODULARITY
Books stacks, desks, and conference room furniture are nested in scale so they can be flexibly reconfigured
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Green Room
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CITY OF FURNITURE
Desks and shelving can slide through each other to integrate book stacks and group studying
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ECOSYSTEM OF MEETING AREAS
The entry and stair to the reading towers becomes an interactive meeting area (left). Inside the entry arch, a more closed conference area can be used by the librarian and parents (above).

Architect
John Hong AIA (principal in charge)
Seungjae Kang (Project Manager), Jinwook Jang

Contractor
Cplus Design Co., Ltd.

Photography
P:A

Project Info
Location: Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea
Program: Library
Area: 445 m²

AIA IR award_ES library_2019-11-16 20.48.50
John Hong (Director, Project : Architecture) and Colm Flanagan (SFS Head of School) receiving AIA International Region Award at ceremony in Shanghai, 16 November 2019