The design has a number of distinctive features that question some of today's widely accepted architectural expressions. It teases some of the holy cows of Modernity, such as horizontality and object - xation and the idea of the infinitely owing space of the open-plan office. We are very fortunate that our partner architect in South Korea, Jong-Hoon Choi, has appreciated and supported these things.
A wonderful sense of mutual respect has developed between us.
URBAN STRATA AND VIEWS We think the building should tell a story about the place and the landscape in which it is situated. The urban landscape structure of Paju Book City has been shaped by the character of the place: by the views of the Han River and the mountain ranges on the horizon; the Sim Hak Mountain next to Paju; and, perhaps most importantly, by the 10m-high flood-protection dam on the motorway that runs between the site and the river's edge. Paju is an urban wetland - with reeds and urban structures. The Paju Design Guide specifies an urban datum made by the existing 8m-high motorway embankment (particularly on Bookmaker Street). The buildings have two-storey podia lining the street, making a higher-density city below the urban datum level, and a further two storeys placed on top as a lowerdensity strata with views of the horizon. In the design for Positive People, one can find these landscape imprints again, in the buildings' stepping forms.
AN ENSEMBLE OF BUILDINGS Positive People is an ensemble of two buildings, rather than one.
It offers an extension of the street's public space in front of the temporary café (now a museum of book printing). The Smithsons' Economist Building in London comes to mind: a family of three buildings each with a similar external treatment, making a powerful and generous public place in the voids left between them. The North Building aligns with the Youl Hwa Dang Building to the north and the directionality of the street, while the South Building turns halfway towards the geometry of the 'Urban Island', the dense part of Paju Book City. We wanted the buildings for Positive People to be delicate and gentle figures, with a sense of dignity and quietness.
STEEL AND BRICK CURTAIN WALLS This is a wall building with windows, not a glass building. The building is composed of a main structure of reinforced concrete walls and oors with external curtain walls of steel and brick. Today, brick buildings usually give an impression of solidity and timelessness. This is an illusion. In most cases a single thickness of brick is used as an external veneer that is tied invisibly to structural walls or frames made of other materials. The curtain walls of the Positive People buildings are made of steel frames attached to the structural concrete walls behind with brick infill. The frames are too thin to support the oors and the roofs of the buildings. The vertical modulation comes from a desire to avoid the use of brick ties or expansion joints. In essence, this construction is not unlike that of a conventional curtain wall of glass supported with steel frames. This concept is similar to Mies' Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Chicago, and Bernd and Hilla Becher's photographs of industrial buildings with steel and brick curtain walls were also an inspiration for this scheme.
COMPOSITION OF WINDOWS The various arrangements of windows played an essential part in forming the character of the building. They are designed in relation to the proportions and qualities of the room interiors, as well as the composition of the exterior walls of the buildings. We think of the windows as large pictures of the outside world that stand on the oor, offering specific views of the mountain, river and the patio space between the buildings. They have a figurative quality, standing on the oor and never reaching the ceiling. There are two general types: the large, almost square studio windows, and the tall outwardopening portrait-like French windows. The external facades are composed of groups, or families, of windows. The sizes and proportions are varied. Window groupings are generated in relation to urban landscape spaces at different scales, and by considerations of formality to the public space and informality to garden and patio space. Window openings occupy a relatively area, to maintain the wall's integrity. We think it is important that the compositional order of the windows remains independent of the order of the brick and steel curtain. The windows should not be 'framed' by the facade steel, but, as they are part of the fabric of the curtain, they are in the same plane as the brick. The facade is divided by wider lines of horizontal steel, making houses on top of houses, such as doublestorey facades on top of each other or a single-storey facade on top of a three-storey facade.
NOBLE FLOOR The Positive People buildings are like large city houses. They are designed as a plan of rooms of varying proportions, directly connected without corridors. When the client came to London to discuss the design, we visited the Georgian houses in Bedford Square. The floor-to-ceiling heights in the Positive People buildings are similar to those proportions of an English Georgian house, the first floor being the noble oor with good views of the public life of the street and the city below. It can be used for ceremonies, lectures and meetings. Tectonic rice paper (han-ji) figures are arranged on the interior of the exposed, cast in-situ, concrete walls of the building.
Similar to the window openings, they stand on the oor and do not reach the fair-faced concrete ceiling with its regular array of beams.
The han-ji figures are like an inner shirt to the concrete. giving the cast concrete wall a renewed dignity. As a complement to the han-ji figures, special han-ji paper lanterns were designed for the noble oor, visible from the street at night.