Located in Haenam, a county in South Jeolla Province, South Korea is the newly-renovated Yusun-gwan Hotel by Chakchak Studio. Originally a temple lodging for traveling Buddhist monks and devotees, it began accepting ordinary visitors as customers in the late 1960s. The renovation of the century-plus old buildings was completed in 2021, with Chakchak Studio’s focus on preserving the building’s original appearance, while ensuring the preservation of the buildings’ original form to the greatest extent possible.
The architects eliminated the garden in the courtyard of the hotel in order to create the largest possible void so that focus would be on the mountains, ravine, centuries-old trees, rocks, and other natural elements surrounding Yusun-gwan Hotel. Pavers that had been installed in the courtyard were replaced with decomposed granite, a material similar to soil. Loose stone fences have been stacked using stones found around the site to demarcate the boundaries of this historic hotel, with the walls’ design intended to visually blur the boundaries between the surrounding landscape and the site of the hotel.
For the interior spaces, comprising 23,680 square feet, hanji, or traditional handmade Korean paper, has been used as a finish for all walls and ceilings to create cozy rooms for guests to stay in. To add extra warmth and insulation, inner windows covered with hanji on both sides have been installed in the rooms of the hotel, which double as curtains that control light. Between the outer windows and the inner hanji windows are insect screens made of a traditional hemp fabric known as sambe. The light that gets through the hanji and sambe that enclose each room fills the interior space with a tranquil ambiance.
A building on the premises that was once used as a communal shower facility has been turned into a cafe with a garden for visitors to experience the beauty of the hotel’s natural surroundings. With over 100 years of history, Yusun-gwan is considered an important cultural heritage property within the region of Haenam, designed to draw local cultural events and tourists.
For more unique architecture, see CH ‘22 House by SPASM Design Architects.