Among the new buildings tucked into the hills in the art village called Heyri about an hour outside Seoul, one reverberates. The Camerata, a long single concrete box, acts like a virtual sound machine, filled with the eclectic strains of all types of music. Designed by Seoul architect Byoung-soo Cho for a private client, this music and coffee bar draws people in as the jazz leaks out.
The client had a unique notion: to celebrate his immense collection of LP recordings, played on vintage turntables, amplified by vacuum-tube based electronics, and pushed through handsome older speakers. The sound is rich and glorious; the space, one of the coolest on the planet. Guests filter in, order a coffee, and sit back for Bach, Frank Sinatra, or Frankie Lane, which washes them in a rich, pre-digital acoustical bath. (He has new cd's as well).
Cho had a small budget, so kept the details rough and ready: board-formed concrete walls that reflect an irregular band-saw finish, and noticeably, a suspended ceiling of 2x12s that both absorb and splay the sounds to the far corners of the large, single space. Light washes down the walls and warms the cool lower level.
The only question raised by the marriage of this idea with a building dedicated to such a singular purpose is, could it happen elsewhere?