Arched Openings

Architecture is a complex signifier. To read and interpret the semiotic medium of a building requires a cultured audience to have general knowledge of architectural form, its determinants, and the elusive design process.

© Tectonics Lab, graphics; © Kyungsub Shin, photographer

A wise individual in an urban situation will find peace without wearing their honors on the street. In this Korean house, prestige and honor are the private reserve of the client. The street elevation does not boast its central organization around an interior court.

Employing masonry arches, ordering with subtle deviance, and building with brick of unusual proportion, constitute a philosophical design decision. This building conceptually integrates universally addressed architectural issues of material, neutral space, and centrality. Here, the arch is a repeated element that is subtly altered throughout the building.

© Kyungsub Shin, photographer; © Tectonics Lab, graphics

An arch is widely-known architectural vocabulary. Where used in succession, it has formed arcades and served circulation when partial enclosure suits the occasion. Arches, like most architectural openings, are concomitant with spatial order.

Images of this Korean house exhibit two different series of round arches. Firstly (shown above), they stage a choreography of passage through adjacent vestibules. Secondly (below), arches mask and frame what is on the other side of them. Each round arch is proportioned to its conjoined rooms in a plan without significant corridors.

© Kyungsub Shin, photographer

Composing an architecture of arches, without emphasis on any keystone, befits a private residence with a formal on-site research facility. There is more than meets the eye in this project that streamlines the transition between space and function.


Written by CPG


Tectonics Lab and Hyundai Kim (Ewha Womans University), architect. Cheongun Residence. Millennium Structure, engineer. Nature and Environment Inc., builder. Seoul, KR, c. 2017.
Kyungsub Shin, photographer.
Tectonics Lab and Hyundai Kim, illustration.
Elena Markus, “Cheongun House by Tectonics Lab in Seoul,” Detail (blog), December 7, 2017,