Forgotten Monuments

 Forgotten Monuments

잊혀진 건축을 위하여



Forgotten Monuments

: Reinventing East Asian Timber Buildings

Since the early 20th centuries, traditional East Asian architecture has faced impending extinction, which Liang Sicheng has stated in his notable book, “Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture”.[1]   The traditional timber frame building in East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea has been replaced by a new building system such as reinforced concrete and steel frames. Moreover, globalization blurred the boundaries between countries of different continents so that characteristics in regional architecture had become ambiguous and easily absorbed into single contemporary architectural paradigm. This situation has seen traditional East Asian architecture lose its realm, one which had lasted for thousands years.


Obstacles to moderning East Asian timber frame buildings are, firstly, the insufficiency of the major construction material, timber; secondly inefficiency of construction compared to modern buildings, and lastly, lack of standardization for building elements. For example, the parts of the roof structure such as the wooden bracket system were a difficult part for industrialization due to their complexity of joinery by discrete elements.


However, by virtue of advanced computer techniques and digital fabrication, East Asian traditional architecture may have intriguing and challenging new design possibilities. Particularly, complex assemblies in traditional buildings such as the wooden bracket system known as dou-gong in China and gong-po in Korea will benefit from today’s technology.


The research consists of 2 parts; the first part is a historical analysis of timber structure buildings in China, Japan, and Korea focusing on bracket systems. This research will look at the different development of systems in each East Asian countries. Through these comparative studies, the research will see the historical evolution of the systems. The second part of the research is a series of design projects, the ‘Tree Series.’ This series aims to reinterpret bracket systems by using algorithmic design methodology and digital fabrication.

Finally, the research will propose an architectural prototype that combines all of the previous research and design works. In the new context of using the recent developments of computational methodologies in design and fabrication, this series of research and built works intends to constitute a novel step in reinventing and evolving the traditional wooden structural system for a new design and construction.

[1] Now, with the coming of reinforced concrete and steel framing, Chinese architecture faces a grave situation. Indeed, there is a basic similarity between the ancient Chinese and the ultra modern. But can they be combined? Can the traditional Chinese structural system find a new expression in these new materials? Possibly. But it must not be the blind imitation of “periods.” Something new must come out of it, or Chinese architecture will become extinct. (Liang, Sicheng, Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture. P. 3.)

About the Team


JK-AR is an agenda-based architecture practice  founded in 2017 by Jae K. Kim. JK-AR is a platform for design experiments. We create space and form to yield new experiences. We think of visions for human life through architecture. At JK-AR, we believe that the spirit of exceptional architecture can be felt through remarkable designs that implement state-of-the-art techniques.

For these aims, JK-AR develops new means of design, construction, and structural engineering by using today’s advanced technology. Working seamlessly with the studies of design computation, digital fabrication, and material application, the office challenges current practice to transform the building industry.

Recently, JK-AR is inventing new applications of conventional materials, focusing on wood and concrete. Especially for wood under the project, ‘Forgotten Monuments,’ the office is dedicated to studies recreating traditional East Asian timber frame buildings with contemporary engineered woods and digital solutions. Additionally, the office investigates to rethink of concrete construction through advanced manufacturing strategies such as 3D printers, under the project, ‘Solid Nature.‘

김재경건축연구소는 건축 실험실이다. 새로운 형태와 공간은 새로운 경험을 준다는 믿음으로 창립되었다. 우리의 건축적 실험은 미래의 실현 가능성을 전제로 한다. 이에 재료의 탐구와 구축 방식에 대한 연구가 건축 산업에 적용될 수 있는 방법을 고민한다. 새로운 형태 및 공간을 위한 건축적 실험이라는 목표는 다음의 다짐으로 더욱 단단해질 것이다.

과거와 미래를 연결하는 시간의 연장선 상의 건축을 추구한다. 이러한 과정은 건축가가 자신의 정체성을 찾는 것과 같다. 따라서 우리에게 과거의 건축을 재해석하는 과정은 매우 중요하다.

기술의 진보를 믿고 적극적으로 적용한다. 기술은 획기적인 발전을 하지만 건축가는 그것을 따라가지 못하고 오히려 정체되고 있다. 이것이 최근 건축설계 산업을 장래성 없게 만드는 가장 큰 요인이라 여긴다. 100년 전의 건축가들처럼 우리도 산업과 기술에서 배워야 한다.


Jae K. Kim-Principal

Jae K. Kim, is an architect, a researcher, and an educator. Currently, he is an assistant professor at Hanyang University and the principal of JK-AR. He studied architectural engineering at Hanyang University in Seoul, and later architecture and urbanism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jae has been awarded Imre Halasz Thesis Prize for excellence in his master’s thesis from MIT, the Gold Medal from American Architecture Prize in 2016, and the 2nd Prize from Korean Wooden Design Awards in 2017. Jae is also the recipient of national research grants given from 2015’ to 2018’. Jae’s design and research work has been published widely in international journals and books such as the Architectural Review, the U.K. and Space Magazine, South Korea.

CV / Personal Webpage / email:

Yesol Lee - Architectural Designer / email:

Jinho Shin - Architectural Designer

Sookran Kwak - Architectural Designer

Youngjune Lee - Architectural Designer