DMZ INTERTWINED BATHHOUSE
From Complexity to Simplicity
Jun Seong Ahn
Border can be as simple as a line from one point to the other, but sometimes it is more complicated when we think of as a stroke that has separated the Korean peninsula. The demarcation line that separates the North and South Korea has constructed and defined a buffer zone, DMZ, and moreover two distinct cultures, economies, histories and people. This project attempts to reinterpret the border zone into an intertwined bath house where both sides can easily cross and experience the borders in order to acknowledge the simplicity and complexity of the artificial line.
The site has an equal amount of area for both Northern and Southern territory. Rather than immediately designing a co-use space where it will boost up tension between North and South, two equally encroached spaces maintain as their own region and the embedded programs occur closely right next to a wall. Thus none of the places are physically connected, the only network that can occur between the North and South is through vision. The entrance for the southern territory passes right next to the northern side’s bath room where users will be able to hear the activity which sound is a start of network. And the place that both sides can see each other is located at the other side’s ground floor of the bath house but still the furthest point from one another. Vision is a furthest sense that human can reach out, and the bath house delivers for North and South users to stay closely on the underground together within a wall apart. The project braced with distinctive visualization moments demonstrates proximity to the other side yet inaccessible due to fragile circumstances.
Architecture and urban design cannot fully resolve the ongoing crisis of the Korean peninsula, but rethinking the border condition can step ahead by envisioning Korea’s futuristic perspective and ultimate goal, unification. The demarcation line has defined separation, but visualizing borderless natural environment is the essential asset that could start to merge and understand the other, and redefine DMZ’s condition where no longer border is treated as an intimidating line but reveal back to its origin of complexity, simplicity.