Hanoks - My Point of View 23 (English Summary)

Shin Young-Hoon / 신영훈

Hanok Master Architect


We have been living with an understanding that a house is not a simple structure but that it contains our energy which creates the cultural base of living. Hanoks are spaces for encouraging individuality within the hierarchical order. There are dae-cheong (wooden-floored reception area) and goo-deul bang (under floor heated rooms) which are made with stones and earth. These unique under floor heated rooms are well received abroad. French people who experience under floor heating commented how the heated room is good for digestion which keeps stomach ache at bay. They are impressed how to use old wood for heating rather than taking to the waste disposal incinerator.

I have travelled to build many hanoks in the US, Mexico, South America, France, Denmark, Norway and Italy. I built the Hanok at the British Museum in London, too. Even though a long time has passed, I haven’t heard a single case where the hanoks have been demolished until now.

Japan and China invited me to teach them how to preserve timbers so that they do not crack in severe weather conditions. They don’t know how to do it, but Koreans know. It is thanks to our long history of Hanok constructions which is full of wisdom as our ancestors learned to adapt their building skills depending on the various weather and topographical conditions on the Korean peninsula. The way the temperature is controlled naturally, the way its layout functions in consideration of the hierarchical family system and the way all the buildings materials are used, are all environmentally friendly.

The reconstruction of Namdae moon (the South Gate), the remodelling of hanoks in Andong and Honam region (south-west of S. Korea) are all carefully orchestrated in traditional ways to fit into the local climate and identities. Young people cannot learn all this from books alone. They are handed down from generation to generation. I am teaching young people about this wisdom in Hanok construction. I hope young people can study scientifically to find out how and why Hanok can contribute to alleviate atopic dermatitis which is prevalent in modern housing.

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