Sweaping curves, minimalist volumes and drama that is supported by research and a sense of experimentation define the work of CHOHELO A+U, the practice led by Shinhyung Cho and Stuart Helo. The Seoul-based studio’s portfolio includes Rounded House, an elegant private home in South Korea. With it, and a growing body of work beyond, the practice joins the ranks of the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021. 

Who: CHOHELO

A practice dedicated to challenging our perceptions about aesthetics and the visual interpretation of architectural typologies, CHOHELO A+U is a Seoul practice that was set up by co-directors Shinhyung Cho and Stuart Helo in 2015. The two South Korea-based architects feel passionate about experimentation, their work often led by a rigorous design process and the idea of endless possiblities. 

‘Architects design buildings. But if we just design buildings, tomorrow will be no different from today. CHOHELO A+U looks to the future and opens up possilibities so that life in the city can go beyond the current reality. We are building the future vision of the city,’ say the two directors. ‘We also aim to explore alternative ways of approaching the debate around sustainability, from a critical lens rather than from a technological one.’

The pair’s bold statements are accompanied by equally powerful imagery, their work often defined by sweaping curves, dramatic geometries and eye-catching compositions. Their designs include several residential projects, such as Rounded House, a minimalist, subtly futuristic white home (see below), as well as a range of other commissions, from galleries to retail and a beautifully sculptural chapel.

defined by a white boxy composition with curved corners this is Korea’s Rounded House

What: Rounded House

This generous private home in the outskirts of Seoul was designed with both work and entertaining in mind. The clients, part of a large family that enjoys hosting, called upon  CHOHELO A+U’s Shinhyung Cho and Stuart Helo for a house design featuring a generous kitchen and dining area that would be perfect for big family banquets, but also have enough space for a workshop on the lower ground level – one of the clients is an established metalworker. 

CHOHELO A+U obliged and Rounded House was born, defined by its scale and apparent simpicity. Its crisp, white, minimalist box form with rounded corners, which add a subtly futuristic edge, conceals a range of living spaces within. The public areas are located on the ground level, with a flowing dining area, kitchen, and living room spilling out to a large garden. Private rooms are upstairs, and the workspace downstairs. 

A spacious circulation core becomes a central feature and the ‘heart of the house’, say the team. It is also strategic in the project’s  sustainability approach, boosting natural air circulation, allowing hot air to travel upwards and out, leaving the house fresher inside. This is supported by a carefully planned insulation strategy (an air pocket within the walls’ double concrete skin), ensuring passive cooling and energy saving. 

South Korean rounded house’s vast minimalist white living space

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021

Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our magazine’s annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. The project has, over the years, spanned styles and continents, while always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni and counting, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 21st edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios, from Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the USA, and the UK, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

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South Korean rounded house’s minimalist white side facade
rounded house in South Korea is a white boxy composition with curved corners by architect ChoHelo
South Korean rounded house’s workshop space looking out to the countryside
South Korean rounded house’s green internal courtyard
South Korean rounded house’s minimalist interior