Simple Pleasures

Victoria and I visited Paju Book City, a planned and quite frankly eerie ‘publishing city’ just outside of the capital that occupies a sliver of land between the Simhak Mountain to the east and a motorway embankment to the west.  Intended as ‘a large exhibition hall of architecture’ smart publishing houses sit either side of a bisecting main road; a small creek threads alongside. 
Residential development is not permitted within Paju, it is purely a place of work, an upmarket trading estate.  This is not to imply it is an unpleasant place but with its lack of restaurants, signage, people, it does feel distinctly un-Korean.  Conversely, there is a rigour to it - manifest in the efficient linear plan; the feeling of walking amongst the apparatus of a well-oiled machine - that is very Korean.

In any case, if this is an exhibition, there are some very beautiful pieces on display.  Among them, Florian Beigal’s ensemble of of publishing houses (more of which later).
Some nice corten steel lamp-posts too:
Just up the road is Heyri, a designated 'art village'.  Here, a regimented plan was precluded by the undulating topography.  Built areas are scattered across the site while the landscape is drawn in from the periphery and encouraged to flourish in the spaces between.
I’m not convinced it is a success.  There is a lack of visual cohesion.  Perhaps it was because it was already late afternoon but with its angular forms half concealed behind scrubby edges Heyri seemed more redolent of an abandoned theme park.  Actually, maybe it was the site map that made me think that:
I also couldn’t help but feel that the idea of an artists' village is unpleasantly elitist.  Surely the place for art is the city where it has something to respond to and reference beyond itself?  Here and there chairs are arranged outdoors in an approximation of Parisian café culture but there is no street life to observe, no bustle, no sense of watching the city unfold.  

But as with Paju, the buildings have been carefully commissioned and there are some notable results (though it may not be immediately apparent from this leaflet)
Among them, balanced on one of Heyri’s six hills is the Camerata, a music studio and private residence designed by Byoung Soo Cho, architect of the previously mentioned Earth House.  
It is a collection of stark voids fastened by intricately arranged stairs. 
This minimal composition, a giant speaker more or less, gracefully articulates the simple pleasure of listening to music.
*all sketches AD

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