Korea’s public facilities are very authoritative. Throughout the country, all police department, fire department and school share consistent design and thus they all look similar to each other. This tendency changed starting from 2000’s. Many public institutions focus on being open to public, convenience, and functionality instead of being authoritative.
Euljiro 119 Fire Station design doesn’t looks like a fire department in a glimpse. Red color and shiny metal are applied in some areas to give an accent to the building while emphasizing the identity of fire station.
Euljiro 119 Fire Station is located on a triangular site with Dongdaemun Design Plaza(DDP) on the west, a fashion shopping mall on the north, and a diagonally running road on the northeast. Underground Level and 1st floor forms are like filling up the mass according to the shape of site, and 2nd and 3rd floor are a like a box formed along the road which sits on top of the 1st floor.
These two different shape of the masses are resulted from program difference as fire department needs to have two different types of spaces: working area that runs 24/7 and the resting/lodging area for the fire fighters. Working area and resting area are separately located, long box shaped lodging area is facing towards Samunhwa park near Dongdaemun station to provide good view and the fitness area is located on the other side of the box to provide vibrant city view near the shopping area. By locating public areas on both ends of the box and lodging area on the center for easy access, it provides pleasant resting area for fire fighters who need to work for long hours.
The garage as a center, working area is mostly visually opened for emergency response and also allow better communication in urgent situation. By allowing natural light into the space through ceiling instead of installing artificial lighting, fire fighters can see the weather and brightness from inside of the building.
There are three separate entry circulations to the building: pedestrian circulation, vehicular circulation, and emergency vehicular circulation.
Fire truck can rapidly move out to any direction as emergency vehicular circulation is connected to the crossroad. Pedestrian circulation is located on the opposite side of the emergency vehicular circulation and close to Dongdaemun historic cultural park.
Upper mass floating on top of the entrance emphasizes the entrances of emergency vehicular circulation and pedestrian circulation located on each side of the building and does not conflict with emergency vehicular circulation.
Public facilities are gradually changing. Turning aside from simple form, it considers the workers and create better urban environment. If public facilities throughout the country are appropriately designed by reflecting characteristics of the location, it will play an important role to create the characteristics of the city and in future, public facilities with good design, good enough to win architectural award, should welcome the citizens.
Euljiro 119 Fire Station won Seoul Metropolitan City Architectural Award and Korean Architecture Awards in 2010.
Written by MK Kim