The Korean House - 5.3 The Emergence of Multifamily Housing
|Understanding Korea Series No.5|
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|AN EXAMPLE OF URBAN-TYPE HANOK: GAHOE-DONG||3) The Emergence of Multifamily Housing||THE TERM APARTMENT|
In 1937, Japan started a war with China that influenced the policies of the Korean peninsula; put simply, the area became a supply base for the war. For this reason, many regions in the peninsula began to develop as industrial areas. The industrial capabilities of the Seoul-Incheon area in particular grew rapidly and, because of this development, population concentration in Seoul sped up after the mid-1930s. The population of Seoul was 443,876 in 1935, 774,286 in 1939, and 1,078,173 in 1943, right before the end of the war. This population increase is closely related to the development of industries and the migration of the working class to the city.
During this time, the Seoul government realized that the development of individual houses was inadequate for such a concentrated population. As a result, the city began developing multifamily houses, and on July, 1, 1941, the Government-General of Korea established the Joseon Housing Authority with the objective of supplying houses to the working class. The Joseon Housing Authority was said to be a joint organization between private companies and the government, though essentially led by the government.
First, the Housing Authority redirected its efforts away from the Seoul downtown area, providing small-scale houses between 6 to 20 pyeong (about 20 to 66 square meters, respectively) in size. Amenities related to urban infrastructure such as tram service, water tanks, and electricity were installed prior to this suburban development. In order to supply a massive number of houses in a short period of time within the budget, a standardized floor plan based on the number of family members was attempted and developed by the Joseon Housing Authority. They had five models and a total of twenty-nine types: eleven types of model A sized 20 pyeong (66 square meters), ten types of model B sized 15 pyeong (49.5 square meters), four types of model C sized 10 pyeong (33 square meters), two types of model D sized 8 pyeong (26.4 square meters), and two types of model E sized 6 pyeong (19.8 square meters). Each model was offered to different classes. Models A, B, C, D, and E were for the high-middle class, mid-middle class, low-middle class, lower class, and workers, respectively.
With the exception of models A and B, the size of the models was smaller than those of the houses for commoners. As conditions deteriorated during wartime, construction activity was interrupted and, consequently, the housing shortage continued.
During this period, an apartment, that is, a multifamily-dwelling with two stories or more, was supplied. This style of midrise multifamily housing was motivated by the emergence of studio apartments, which were provided to unmarried employees by companies. The type of studio apartment constructed in modern Japan was like a dormitory, complete with a public kitchen and bathroom. Since it was difficult to install facilities such as kitchens and toilets in every unit, studio apartments featured individual rooms and shared facilities. An example of this type of commoners’ apartment was built in Seoul around the 1960s, and it was common for such buildings to have a public toilet on every floor.
- Domii Masanori (冨井正憲), “Dongasia geoju hwangyeong-e daehan bigyo yeongu: Hanguk, taiwan, jungguk, ilbon-ui jutaek yeongdan-eul saryero” (A comparative analysis of the living environment in East Asia: with the case of Housing Authorities of Korea, Taiwan, China and Japan) (Lecture presented at the Annual Conference of Daehan Geonchuk Hakhoe [Architectural Institute of Korea], 2008).
- Jeon BongHee and Kwon Yong-chan, Hanok-gwa hanguk jutaek-ui yeoksa (History of hanok and the Korean House), p. 184.