Dae-seung Woo / Republic of Korea
Better known as the Bukchon Hanok Village, Gahoe-dong in Seoul is a holy ground where Korea’s first Catholic mass was held in 1795. Some 150 years later, the Gahoe-dong Catholic Church was built in the area in 1954. In 2010, the building received a grade of danger during a safety inspection, so the Archdiocese of Seoul held an architectural design contest to rebuild the church on the same site. The contest guideline stated the design should reflect features of the area as well as the site's historical meaning as a Catholic holy ground. The design concept was “a blue-eyed Catholic priest and a Confucian scholar elegantly dressed in a hanbok (traditional Korean clothes) putting their arms around each other’s shoulders.” Architect Dae-seung Woo successfully embodied this concept into his design and won the contest.
Completed through close collaboration between the Catholic church and the architect, the new church, including the hanok (traditional Korean house), seems to portray two friends, modern and traditional, complementing and supporting each other’s strengths. To harmonize with Bukchon Hanok Village, the architect created three underground floors to accommodate two thirds of the necessary facilities. In addition, he located the low-rise hanok building closer to the roadside and placed the chapel and the priest’s office, which are larger structures, behind the hanok. In particular, Woo created courtyards between the hanok, the chapel and the priest’s office, creating a spacious yet cozy atmosphere.
At the central courtyard, which is open to the public, you can enjoy the harmony created by the refined beauty of the traditional architecture and the stylish minimalistic western style building. Atop the stairs going to the chapel is a connecting courtyard that guides the secular world into the church, where you can put down your worries and appreciate the peaceful and reverent atmosphere. The rooftop is a must-visit if you want to enjoy the beautiful landscape created by the traditional houses in the village.
TIP : Near the church is the Seokjeong Full Moon Well, which provided drinking water until the early 20th century. It is said that water from this well was used by priest Zhou Wenmo (1752–1801), Korea's first foreign preist from China, for baptisms.
Location : 57 Bukchon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : 02-763-7570
How to go : 10-min walk from Exit 2 of Anguk Station, Subway Line 3
Donglim Knot Workshop
Bukchon Traditional Culture Center
Seokjeong Full Moon Well