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Palace Architecture of Ch'cagdok-kung

-Yoon, Chang Sup (Member,National Academy of Sciences)



-Cultural Background
-Characteristics of Korean Architecture
-Site Palanning and Rear Garden
-
Architecture of Injong-jon
-References



3.Site Planning and Rear Garden



l. Site Planning

Ch'angdok Palace had been used as the principal seat of govemment for 258 years after its reconstruction work in 1609. It was the main stage for historical events of the Choson dynasty. The location of important buildings around the Throne Hall (Injong-jon), were not changed much during this period but maintained most of their original disposition. Since the terrain of the site was hlly, buildfogs in the palace were arranged to fit the natural contour. Aa result, site planning of the palace display irregular and asymmetrical features (Fig. l).

It is very unique that the main gate of Tonwha-mun is located in the southwest corner of the site, with much deviation from the axis of the Throne Hall. Passing through the gate, the main road runs about 70 meters to one of tfle oldest stone bridges in Korea, Kumchun-kyo. This bridge, built fu 1411, possesses a unique characteristic in its stone work and has been designated as a national treasure.

Crossing the bridge and moving l00 meters to the east, Throne Hal, Injong-jon, appears on the left side. Injong-mun, t|he entrance gate to the royal courtyard in front of the Throne Hall, is oriented toward the south and possesses a trapezoidal front yard. The spatious monumental royal courtyard is surrounded by corridors. Inside of the entrance gate this enclosed space is dominated by Throne Hall.

To the east of The Throne Hall within a vicinity, a smaler audience chamber called Sonjong-jon is located with its smaller front courtyard. It is the only pal ace building roofed with blue-glazed tiles. The building area which includes Inj ong-jon and Sonjong-jon is the central part of the palace, which is labeled as the outer royal quarter. The buildings of the inner royal quarter, where the king and queen resided, are located to h e northeast of Throne Hall. Further east, a beautiful pavilion called the Sungwha-ru and the famous royal residence of the last queen of Korea, Nakson-jae, are located. Toward the north of the palace is a path running west of Sungwha-ru. Visitors can approach the Rear Garden through a densely wooded area by this path.

2. Rea Garden

The landscape layout of the Rear Garden was initially developed in 1406, but had lain in ruins for twenty years since the Japanese invasion of l592. When the palace of Ch'angdok-Kung was reconstructed in 1610, the garden was also renovated by providing small pavilions and some landscape work. In the year 1656, the innermost zone of the garden, called Okryu-chon, was developed. Then the middle zone of the garden was landscaped with the construction of the pavilion of Jonduk- jung together with some small pavilions. By the reign of King Jung-jo Chuham-ru, one of the largest pavilion, and other pavilions were built in the front zone of the garden in 1777 (Fig. 4).

The total area of the garden is about 78 acres. The garden has been variously called, the Rear Garden, Tre North Garden, the Forbidden Garden, or the Secret Garden, the last appellation in use since l9l2. The name Rear Garden is more proper. During the Choson Dynasty, the garden was reserved for the royal family and the palace women. Forty-four pleasure buildings are scattered among ponds, bridges and streams of this royal park. Throughout the year seasonal changes are mirrored in the placid pools, while fanciful pavilions continue to enthral al ages.

Passing through the entrance of the garden a path leads down a hi11 toward the north. There, a visitor can see the beautiful panoramic view of the front zone of the garden whose terrain has a basin open toward the east. On foe top of the northern hill the largest pavilion, Chuham-ru, stands dramatically, dominating the entire space. In the center of the space enclosed by the buildings and landscape, a large, square-shaped pond is located. At the middle of the south bank a pavilion called Puyong-jong projects out into the pond supported by two stone pedestals undernearh the water. A visitor sitting on the floor may feel as if he or she were floating on water.

To the north of the pond, Osu-mun, the entrance of Chuhap-ru, is 1ocated. lt stands like a fentastic piece of wookcraft rather than an ortdnary building. Chuhap-ru is a two storied pavilion whose name can be seen on the second story. The first floor housed Kyujang-kak, the library for the ]eading scholars of the Practical Learning. It was founded by King jung-jo in the eighteenth century, Sohyang-kak, to the west of tfle pavilion, contained the book stacks of the library. This dramatic front zone of the garden is one of the climactic spaces of the Rear Garden.

Behind the hill where Chuham-ru stands, there is a valley with the entrance called the Pullo-mun. It is located in the east end of the valley and was carved out from a single stone. To the right of the entrance there is a square pond with a beautiful small pavilion called Aeryon-jong. To the inner west area of the valley, a typical Korean residence called Yonkyung-dang is located. It was built in l828 to conform with the style of a distinguished yang-ban villa which had the legally mandated area of 99 kan. Kings used to stay here once in a while to experience, themselves, the daily life of their royal subjects.

Coming down from the hill of Yonkyung-dang, the visitor arrives at another valley which stretches from the south to the north. There are two ponds shaped more or less like the Korean peninsula and the Cheju island. On the bank of the larger pond a unique small pavilion called "Kwanlam-jong" is located. It has a fen shaped plan and extends into the pond on two stone pedestals. The hexagnal pavilion "Chondok-jong", with a beautifully decorated ceiling and double roofe, dorninates the space in the middle zone of the Rear Garden.

Further to the north upon a hill the scenery of the innermost zone of Okryu-chon can be seen. A stream flows down through an "L" shaped channel and forms a small water fall. Several small pavilions are arranged to fit nicely with the beautiful surrounding landscape. This inner zone has an excellent spatial quality with the atmosphere of coziness, serenity7 and harmony with nature. The west zone of the Rear Garden is more or less like a deep forest in a remote mountain. Beyond several hills to the west of the Rear Garden, Shrine of "Sonwon-jon" is located. The portraits of famous kings in the Choson Dynasty were enshrined in the twelve niches of this building.

The landscape of the Rear Garden was developed in accordance with the typical Taoist concepts, and displays irregularity, asymmetry, curvilinear and undulating forms. The Garden was designed without any intention to extend formality of building patterns to the surrounding landscape. lt was conceived not as a setting for buildings, but in a way, the opposite. It has the characteristic of harmony betweeen nature and artificial works through the sensitive arrangement of architecture within a natural setting. This garden represents the elegant fearures of landscape archtecture at its best.


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