Camouflage is a word which describes the action of particular creatures that disguise their color or form according to their circumstances for survival. Some years ago, New York fell into love with vintage style hotels which are created by converting an old factory in an abandoned industrial district thus vividly represent the history of the 20th century industrial era. Those hotels are providing not only beautiful interior spaces demonstrating the passage of time but also new energy and vigor for local communities through innovative intervention on the desolate industrial area.
In fact, Handpicked Hotel looks bit strange as it is located at the center of Sando-dong, a general residential district in an old downtown area. it’s not a renowned tourism spot, a place having a good transportation network, a shopping mecca like Dongdaemun or an attractive place having a large floating population. And considering its surrounding environment, having a new high-rise building standing all alone is somewhat unnatural for the area. Nevertheless, the hotel has started attracting quiet many customers several months after its opening though it’s not a branch of a big hotel brand. The changes in the number of tourists visiting Korea tell that the number increased after the rise of Korean Wave though Korea didn’t try hard to offer any new attractions like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. What do they want to see in Korea? Do they want to see foods which young Won Bin often ate and places where he grew up or how Jun Ji-hyun lives her ordinary life as a wife? Perhaps, our dynamic culture and our everyday lives are what they may want to see. With sceneries in which our daily lives from the 1970’s until today have been accumulated and interlaced, the residential district in Sangdo-dong could be the most lively place filled with our genuine culture, especially for foreigners.
While Europeans with unfamiliar cultural background have started settling down in the area, somehow the camouflage disposition of Handpicked Hotel seems to have helped the hotel engage with the existing old downtown culture. It seems that foreign long term stay travelers have enabled the natives to regard the foreigners as their own kind and to build a new type of community and share cultures together. For foreigners, this phenomenon offers an opportunity to experience the Korean lifestyle, and for locals, it is a great chance to revitalize and transform their local culture. The hotel is expected to become a place where young artists can achieve aesthetic communication with the community through collaboration projects covering not only one corner of the hotel but also neighboring alleys, and which can create dynamic events linked with the food and entertainment cultures of adjacent areas to create dynamic events.
Establishing a good relationship with the surroundings for this unique building was another task as difficult as the transformation of local culture. Red brick, a common material for multi-family housing buildings in Sangdo-dong, is used to emphasize the tactile language of the building so that the building can look more familiar. Exposed concrete surfaces made by construction works are preserved as they are so that the roughness of a raw material and sharply edged metal details can make a contrast. Though the hotel is dedicated to individuals and their personal trips, a multi-layered arrangement plan is established under the concept ‘Social Private Trajection’ which promotes communication with local communities. The 1st floor is used to secure convenience in terms of accessibility, and the hotel’s front desk is positioned on the top floor. Designed as an independent space, the basement and the top floor provide not only amenity facilities for the hotel but also an open space that gives more energy to the local community. They are filled with an editorial shop, flower shop, gallery, library, cafe and restaurant to strengthen the function of the hotel as a local living and culture facility supporting various life styles. The one last task is continuously expressing the sentiment of this simple town through combinations of everyday culture and the practical works by artists.