Overlooking the picturesque landscape surrounding Bang Dong Lake in Yuseong District of Daejeon, South Korea, sits a curious sculptural white object. A closer look reveals that the mysterious cube with the geometrical carvings on its surface is in fact a house, and a wonderful one at that. Known for his love of asymmetrical pentagons and industrial forms, the fantastical house known as Conan House, or Play House, constitutes South-Korean architect Moon Hoon’s recently-completed project. Commissioned by a young couple as a residence for them and their young son, Hoon’s creation takes the concept of ''playful architecture'' to new, exciting extremes.
The main feature of the house is its haphazard staircase which spirals upwards in unexpected ways; hovering in between floors, turning in awkward trapezoid shapes and providing views to the exterior through asymmetrical windows and openings. In effect, the staircase creates a seamless, continuous common space accommodating common-use rooms such as a small library and office, a dining area, the kitchen and a play room at the very top (including a bright red slide for children). When looked at from the ground floor up, the stairwell double functions as a light well creating a dramatic optical effect. Overall, the interior is a safe space, full of nooks, steps and railings for children to climb and explore, while still being reassuringly humane, warm, versatile and bright.
The sense of uncoiling created by the staircase inside the house is also reflected on the outer shell of the house by the homocentric geometric designs on each wall. From the outside, the house looks like a stand-alone object, a piece of geometric sculpture or a mysterious alien abode (making one question whether reference is made to the design evident in toys, sci-fi video games or TV action series). The whole construction sits on one large plate, as if ready for take-off. Its front entrance, disguised as a chipped-off red corner, seems inviting and playfully suspicious at the same time. The overall balance and ingenuity of the design is commendable: on the one hand, providing functionality, efficiency and a minimal aesthetic suitable for a comfortable domestic life, on the other, providing a quasi-fantastical, stimulating and fun environment for children to grow up in.