The Korean House - 6.2 The Popularization of the Apartment
|Understanding Korea Series No.5|
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|VARIOUS FEATURES OF THE URBAN DETACHED HOUSE||2) The Popularization of the Apartment||SUPPLY OF APARTMENT COMPLEXES|
Although there were examples of small-scale multifamily houses for the middle class even before liberation, apartments began to be constructed en masse after the 1960s and were universally adopted by Koreans after the late 1970s.
The first apartment to be built after liberation was Jongam Apartment. It was an apartment for the working class that was built in 1959 at the base of a mountain. Since its facilities had not yet been fully upgraded—that is, its rooms still required briquettes for heating and had communal restrooms—this type of housing was not immediately embraced. This style of cheaply built apartment was widely constructed from 1967 to 1971.
For this reason, Mapo Apartment, which was constructed from 1961 to 1964, holds significance in the developmental history of Korean apartments. It was a large-scale apartment complex serving 642 households with four linear buildings surrounding six Y-shaped, six-story buildings. This was a representative model of the beginning of the apartment complex with residential buildings, stores, and playgrounds within the complex. It successfully changed the image of apartments from being cheap housing to being luxury housing. This change played a decisive role in making apartments the most popular housing type in Korea.
In the mid-1970s, a development proposal for the southern part of Seoul also played an important role in popularizing apartments. Although the size of Seoul had already expanded to the current city boundaries by 1963, it was only the old downtown and a few industrialized western areas that had been developed; the southern part of Seoul remained rural. In order to accommodate the population growth—the population of Seoul rapidly increased to 5,530,000 in 1970, 6,880,000 in 1975, and 8,350,000 in 1980—the government started developing residential areas on the east side of the area south of the Hangang River. Since houses had to be supplied in large numbers, the government opted to accelerate apartment construction.
Hangang Mansion Apartment, constructed in 1970, employed a central heating system instead of individual heating systems. This central heating system included a central boiler room, which distributed heated water to every housing unit for heating as well as hot water use. As a result, this helped spread the awareness of apartment housing as a warm and comfortable way to live. Central distribution of hot-water heating became the standard heating method of apartments. Moreover, an apartment building with stores on the ground floor was built along one of the streets, and other apartment complexes were created nearby as well. This apartment district could accommodate over 3,000 households and later became a model for apartment construction in the districts south of the Hangang River. Meanwhile, Yeouido Sibeom Apartment, built in 1971, was equipped with an elevator, which allowed for twelve to thirteen stories, in contrast to other commonly constructed five- to six-story apartments with stairs. This opened up the era of high-rise apartments.
Banpo Apartment Complex, which was constructed in 1974, was the first large-scale development in Gangnam, south of Hangang River. This complex consisted of 3,786 households and functioned as a self-sufficient community that included an elementary school, a middle school, a community service center, a post office, a bank, a police substation, a shopping center, and even bus stops inside the complex. The popularity of apartment-oriented housing continued, leading the government to create legislation that designated land for apartment districts and prohibited the construction of any other types of buildings. The desire to live in apartment, which emerged in the late 1970s, caused people to make speculative ventures on apartments. Through the 1980s to 1990s, apartments gradually became the most common housing type, spreading from the urban areas, including Seoul, to the rest of the nation. After the 1970s, apartments targeted middle-class consumers by adopting LDK-type floor plans that had combined the kitchen, dining room, and living room into one open space, as well as 3LDK floor plans that had a master bedroom for the head of the household and two bedrooms for children. Houses for commoners had 2LDK or 1LDK, which had fewer rooms, whereas a floor plan with four or more bedrooms was developed for higher-class families. Until the early 1980s, the heating system was constructed by installing hot water pipes underneath the bedroom floors while radiators were used in other rooms such as the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Using a radiator, however, was not compatible with the Korean sedentary lifestyle and could not sufficiently allow a household to withstand the cold Korean winter. For this reason, floor heating systems began to be applied to the entire house.
The layout of rooms initially accepted the modern zoning plans which arranged spaces by functions: the living room, dining room, and kitchen were positioned near the entrance while bedrooms were placed together at the back of the house. However, after the mid-1980s, a living-room-centered floor plan was used, one that was very similar to the traditional hanok floor plan with a maru at the center and ondol rooms on the sides. As a result, the living room and dining room were placed at the center while the bedrooms were positioned on the sides. This style was preferred because it allowed more privacy within the family.
- Statistics Korea, National Statistical Office (NSO), “Population Census of Seoul,” http://kosis.kr/statisticsList/statisticsList_01List.jsp?vwcd=MT_ZTITLE&parmTabId=M_01_01#SubCont . Statistics were rounded to the nearest thousand.