Time for tee

by MICHELE KOH MOROLLO on Jan 6, 2012 in Architecture
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With its imposing, almost fantastical tree-like timber columns almost three storeys high, the clubhouse at the Haesley Nine Bridges golf course is like wandering through a forest wonderland

 In recent years, South Korea has become one of the world’s most dynamic golfing destinations, with an every increasing number of course being built in the country at a faster rate than any other place in the world.

Just under two years ago, Nine Bridges opened a sister course to its Jeju Island site – which is ranked one of the world’s top 100 courses out of 37,000 courses, where its eco-friendly design, which allows for minimal impact on the natural environment and its super luxurious member facilities.

The second golf course, Haesley Nine Bridges Country Club, is located in Yeoju, near Seoul, and features a stunning clubhouse which is the result of the design efforts to two ‘star’ architects: South Korea’s Kyeong Sik Yoon, and Japan’s Shigeru Ban, who went on to win the International Architecture Awards for Best New Global Design 2010.

Nine Bridges was looking to build a striking, modernist clubhouse using elements that were sensitive to Korean traditional architecture. The design solution dreamed up by Kyeong and Ban had support structures resembling golf tees, with a grid pattern that recall the dimples on a golf ball.

During the time of conception, Ban was working on the Centre Pompidou-Metz in Lorraine, France, so his vision was to create a similar timber design for Haesley. The structure of the clubhouse is informed by a large roof composed of a sequence of grid arches and, like the Centre Pompidou-Metz, the geometry of the roof was constructed with triangle and hexagonal shapes. These shapes also mimic the patterns on traditional Korean bamboo sleeping pillows.

The 16,000 sq-m facility, which serves the golf course has an underground level, three floors above grade and composed of a main clubhouse area for regular members, as well as a lobby area and private suite accommodations for VIP members. Each of these zones were built with different structural systems, but they all reflect elements of traditional South Korean construction methods. The VIP members’ clubhouse building is made with reinforced concrete, while the VIP accommodation building is a small span of steel structured to a residential scale.

The main building has a hexagonal wooden grid shell roof structure that encompasses the entire building. Within this area is an atrium space, with a timber roof supported by timber columns and surrounded by a glass curtain wall. The columns are arranged in a vertical, radial climb, so once they reach the roof plane, they curve to form the horizontal component of the hexagonal grid. The first floor of the atrium is fitted with 4.5m-wide glass shutter windows that open fully to give the space even greater transparency, with both physical and visual connection to the green outside.

The lower podium, which forms the base of the building, is built with random rubble masonry set in the vernacular slanting style of South Korean temples. A reception zone, members lounge, party room, locker and bathrooms are situated in this main area, which is essentially the heart of Nine Bridges.

By maximising the functionality of the timber structures and increasing natural ventilation and light through the concept of hexagon patterns and plenty of glass, the clubhouse is both ecologically sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. However, as wood poses a greater fire hazard than most other construction materials, the challenge was to fire-proof the wooden grid shell roof, beams and columns. This was achieved by laminating the beams and columns and increasing their thickness in order to achieve a two-house fire rating.

The resulting clubhouse is an astute match for the golf course itself, designed by architect David Dale of Golfplan. “It’s more of a vista there, where the scope of the club can be fully grasped and appreciated. The first is a gorgeous opening hole, downhill with the sweep of the front nine stretching out before you. Turn 90 degrees and you see the peninsula green at number 9, which has got to be one of the top par-4s in the country. Turn 90 degrees more and you’re looking up at that amazing clubhouse. The goal was for Haesley to stand out, and I believe that goal has been met. There’s nothing like it in South Korea, or anywhere else,” says Dale.