Hanok – Perfect Mix of Beauty and Comfort

Traditional Korean houses are called “Hanok”. The architecture of these houses focuses on the infrastructure’s relationship to its surroundings — typically landscapes and seasonality. While many Hanok homes can be seen in small towns of larger cities, most neo-traditional Korean homes are built in remote areas, truly capturing the traditional essence of Korean homes by embracing the surrounding nature in creative ways.

Ondul-Maru – Architectural Relationship

korean house

Since Korea experiences extremely hot summers and cold winters, these Korean homes provide comfort in both the weather conditions. All homes that are equipped with Ondol (an underfloor heating system) and Maru (a wide wooden floor area) are considered hanok. Ondol is an underfloor heating system that originated in homes in northern regions with a continental climate, while the Maru is a structure for cooling that originated in homes in southern regions with an oceanic climate.

Earth, Trees and Hanji: Building a house from nature

korean house

The traditional architecture of most countries makes use of materials like wood, earth and stone that are easily found in the surrounding natural environment. The hanok was no exception. Wood was used for its pillars and maru, stone for the gudeul (heating device of ondol), and clay for the floors and walls. Of these materials, the hanok used a particularly large quantity of clay, applying it not only to the walls but also to the roof. The clay is what makes hanok cool in the summer and warm in the winter with its innate heating and cooling properties.

korean house

Another unique feature of hanok is the use of hanji—traditional Korean paper that is made from the bark of the mulberry tree. Hanji is use on almost every flat surface inside the home, including walls, doors, the ceiling and even the floor. Hanji is pasted on doors due to its excellent insulating capacity and its transparency. It not only keps the room warm but also let in the sunlight. Hanji does not have the closed structure of glass; rather, it has air holes that make ventilation of the entire home possible without having to always open the doors. Hanji also adjusts humidity levels by absorbing excess moisture in the air and evaporating it when the air is dry. It even traps floating dust particles, acting as an air purifier. With all of these features, the hanok is not only eco-friendly but brings nature itself directly into the home in the forms of light, air and even sound.

Hanok: The Purity of Empty Space

korean house