Architectural firm STPMJ was founded by Seoul-born architects and Harvard Graduate School of Design alumni Seung Teak-Lee and Mi Jung Lim, now the respective directors of the company’s Seoul- and New York-based offices. Their work has taken them to various places in South Korea, the USA and Canada, and has included installations, exhibitions, private residences and large-scale projects in various sectors.
Stratum House brought them to Icheon, a city in South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province. The project comprises two separate residences that can accommodate three families between them. While the interiorsof these residences are inviting and homely, the varying layers of concrete adorning their exteriors give the facades a particularly eye-catching appeal.
STPMJ approached Stratum House as an experimental effort. Teak-Lee and Lim wanted to discover how manipulating the various constituents of cement might change its properties. They also aimed to give the project the appearance of a geological formation.
The duo experimented with numerous concrete mixtures, altering aspects such as the cement-to-water ratio, which affected the evenness of each layer’s edges.They also varied the type of aggregate present, which impacted the textural quality of each layer. Lastly, they changed the amount of black and white pigment added to each layer, which created different colour tones.
Stratum House’s exterior walls were cast over a period of 22 days and the result is a series of stacked concrete layers that do indeed resemble a series of rock strata, perhaps the reason for the project’s name. The work is a testament to STPMJ’s efforts in investigating the nature of the materials they use; to how such investigation can lead to or impact design-related innovation; and, lastly, to the myriad ways in which concrete can be utilised.
Photography: Song Yousub