The 0914 flagship store in Seoul, South Korea, is a co-working office building spanning an area of 2377 square meters. Designed by TRU Architects and Eho, it was built in 2017. Simone Limited is a high-end Korean luxury handbag company that lies in the same class with all the top international brands. ‘0914’ is their first luxury label with the upper echelons of society as their clientele.
Incorporating a vertical village form within the massive cuboid, the concept is derived from the traditional artisans working with young upcoming designers. The ground + four-storeyed structure is set in Dosan Park, with many high-end luxury brand names. The building is a result of a design competition with a store concept and architectural design as its theme. Five small hamlet-like forms are embedded into the street-facing façade of the building. The thick impenetrable external envelope fortifies the mini-village against the elements while separating the exterior and the interiors, the public, and private spaces. Upon entering the structure the visitors are taken along a journey down memory lane. The thirty-year long leather manufacturing and designing history is depicted on the shop floor. The visitors come out with an experience of learning the process and creativity minds behind the rich heritage of the company.
The shop floor is fragmented and divided due to the ‘village’ form. They create staggered floor plates and interesting spaces. Each storey sits across multiple levels, with stops in the center of the space connecting them. The arcaded interiors are emphasized and reinforce the strength and solidarity between the workers along with dividing the vast floor plate into smaller workspaces. The services are located along the right, rear corner culminating in a hamlet of its own.
Vertically the spaces are physically connected by flights of staircases along the back periphery of the structure. The structure is introvert as the spaces look inward with the help of courtyards and cut-outs in the slabs. These rectangular openings allow the flow of thought and information freely along with incorporating each small part into a whole unified company. The open plan concept facilitates people of different ages and purposes to collaborate and work to promote the brand and their innovative designs. With one fire escape staircase and one lift, the floors are easily accessible. The other staircase is at the left rear end and connects the first and second floors.
An external open well staircase sits within a court leading down to the underground multilevel plaza. The plaza creates an interaction space for craftsmen, designers, and visitors to mingle. The former showcase their work in the form of exhibitions and fashion shows. The staircase doubles as a runway for the shows. The upper two basement levels are part of the plaza and accessible by all while the lower two levels are used by building services and parking. The first basement has a cafeteria and gallery space. The two levels are connected by square courts diminishing the generally claustrophobic environment of underground structures. A car lift allows parking at the lower levels.
The rooftop imitates a villa sitting over a river with a lush garden. With a shallow pool and silver grass, the terrace acts as an oasis set within the buzz of the shopping street. The calming sanctuary is split across two levels and lies shielded by tall parapets. It offers employees a break from their daily routine and provides fresh air to flow through the spaces along with privacy in the densely crowded neighborhood. The other half of the roof has a seaside atmosphere with sand and stones with wavy profiles.
Punctuated by square fixed windows, there is a cave-like sensation to the entrance. The store entrance at the ground level is pushed back and encased in a typical glass storefront. Along with the upper windows, they function as displays for the luxury handbags designed and manufactured by Simone. Due to the proximity of the building to its adjacent structures, there are fewer windows along the sides. At the rear of the building, some open spaces have been provided for natural light and ventilation. Narrow floor to ceiling windows perforates the internal brick walls increasing transparency and light within the building. Horizontal ribbon windows run along the upper reaches of each floor, mimicking clerestories. They are partial and are situated alongside and back walls to ensure privacy.
The stark white structure is in direct contrast to the clay brick houses, and the brick interiors. The inset of the front is coarsely textured with lights at sharp edges highlighting the three-dimensional nature of the building. The extrusions at various elevations are staggered to create separated internal spaces. The house forms have wooden gabled roofs that complement the rich interiors of the spaces within. The workshops have arched vaulted ceiling which gives a village market feel. Glass partitions segregate the internal spaces establishing each space with a specific function.