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Inside, Outside, & In-between

Shelter for Soul Competition

The rising rate of unemployment in Korea over the past several years has created a unique social phenomenon that has resulted in a marginalized group of people in the younger generation. The constant societal pressure to find a job in a wildly competitive market has driven young people in Korea to seek stability through extreme means. More than 300,000 young Koreans in their early 20s to mid 30s have flocked to ‘Goshichon’ in the hopes of securing stable government jobs. These ‘Goshichon’ or Goshi Villages are towns entirely comprised of countless young ‘Goshi-seng’, a term that describes a person who studies for civil servant exams. These ‘Goshi-seng’ seclude themselves in tiny rooms devoting all of their time studying for these exams. With a large number of people taking these exams, the failure rate is very high, often resulting in people failing year after year wasting up to 10 years of their lives in the hopes of attaining a job.

The combination of outside societal pressure, with the endless loop of failures, and lack of social interaction due to constant studying result in mental deterioration and shame. This has developed into a whole marginalized group of demoralized ‘Modern Day Hermits’ that are stuck in a completely isolated environment. The overwhelming feeling of a failure forces them to lose ability to engage with the society.

The extreme anxiety caused by being out in the public drives ‘Modern Day Hermits’ to seeks an escape from the gaze of the public realm. Our project addresses this issue by providing a temporary comforting shelter that creates a buffer between the individual and their overstimulating surroundings. As the project guides the individual, the repeating wooden panels mediate the outside environment and calm the individual by slowing the perception of the outside world into small viewing frames. The project elevates the individual from the surroundings and begins a transformative procession through the moire effect created by the overlapping spiral paths. The transitional moments created by this effect allow for glimpses and micro-interactions to the public beyond.

The procession culminates when the ‘The Hermit’ reaches the heart of the project placing him on the same plane as the public. As the light comes through oculus, it illuminates the gentle curvature of the interior allowing for a moment repose and self-reflection. This small intimate space sets up a juxtaposition between the protection created by being at the center of the project and the vantage point that allows for a complete visual connection to the public in all directions. It allows for ‘The Hermit’ to regain agency as he is now in control of his connection to the public. With the renewed agency, “The Hermit” physically emerges from the shelter and mentally emerges from his shell reentering the outside world.

Designers: Ryu Ahn & David Heaton

2019

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