SNU ∣ Ssamziegil ∣ 02


For the second field trip, I went to a place called Ssamziegil (쌈지길) in Korea, which is located near Jong-ro. Ssamzeigil is a place where large number of artists, blacksmiths, potter and other people with professions of art and craft sold their master pieces in the past. Now, this place has transformed into a place for tourism and a shopping district.



A street in Ssamzeigil


There is one building in Ssamziegil which is like an icon of this place. I think the building itself it called Ssamziegil. The unique feature about this building is that the building was initially designed considering the surrounding environment of this area. On the streets, there are shops everywhere, and there is one main road where almost everyone travels through. When the Ssamziegil building was initiated, the architect who designed the house considered this feature of one main road and collaborated into the building design. What he did was that he created a building which allows the continuation of the main road into the building without being disconnected.



An image of the Ssamziegil Building


Inside the building, I was able to understand why this building was the iconic building the area. This building had a very unique interior design. As I mentioned before, when architect was designing for this building, he considered the surrounding environment as well. In fact this consideration continued to the interior platform of the building as well. 



The interior view of the Ssamziegil Building.


The interior was designed in a way that the corridor of the interiors were slanted slightly upward allowing the customers to walk upwards without utilizing the stairs. This, I think is very unique feature that make the interior of this building organic.

I personally like how the architect formatted the interior because now there isn't a definite boundary, dividing the building into separate floors, but making the whole building interrelated to each other. This creates very interesting atmosphere which I have not yet felt form other buildings. This ambiguous definition of floors also allows the parts of the buildings to be utilized in a very unique format, however the sad part is that I think the shops weren't able to maximize the creativity which was offered - I think they purposely tried to define as if the there were floors existed which somehow destroyed what could be a building which has no floors, but building itself is one huge creation, into just one of the mainstream building which we could find it in other places.

I think this perception of trying to stick to traditional methods reduces the creativity as it forces oneself to be captured in this self-created boundaries, restricting to force one to take risks and stop one to think outside of the box.


Back to the main road, I was able to see a line of western and some Korean shops aligned next to the street. Looking at this, I was able to sense that the atmosphere that Ssamzeigil use to create sort of disappeared, although some of the vibe were still present.  It was a moment that I was able to feel the rapid change of time and culture.

Here are the some of the street views of Ssamzeigil.



Few modern shop selling goods and service.

Street crowded with people and merchants. We can see that most of the buildings were remodeled to modern buildings.

Another street view


While most of the buildings were modern buildings, I was able to find few buildings which still maintained the traditional values.



A Hanok (Korean Traditional Building). This building happens to be a museum.


I was also able to find a this place which seems to be a small garden (later I found out that it was an another museum gallery place) where majority of the buildings were still Hanok.


The trip overall was I think interesting as I was able to see few interesting buildings (including the Ssamziegil building) and got inspired by number of them. 

Ssamziegil is an tourist district where I think the place kind of stands out as a tourist destination. However, I can feel that the place is beginning to lose its uniqueness of the area which was only able to be found in Ssamziegil. Although the Ssamziegil building helps its historical value to be maintained, the rapid modernization, lack of creativity and carelessness of transformation of the area into a tourism district seems to be, at least to my perspective, have created a some side effects. I just hope that this place starts to maintain its unique color as a Ssamziegil and emphasize more to the historical value, not just a tourist place where people can visit and get some Starbucks latte in one corner and a McDonalds from the other.