Namsangol Hanok village, which is Korean traditional houses town using an unique floor-heating system, Ondol

May 10, 2011 at 5:58 am 1 comment

Namsangol Hanok Village, also known as “A Village of Traditional Houses in the Namsan Valley”, is a Korean village located in the area of Pil-dong neighborhood in Jung-gu, a central district of Seoul, South Korea where hanok or Korean traditional houses have been restored to preserve the original atmosphere of the area. The Namsangol Hanok Village offers one the opportunity to experience a wide cross-section of Joseon-era citizenry and activities, from royalty to commoners. A great effort has been made to accurately furnish each dwelling with appropriate era and social status appointments.

 Korean Traditional Architecture Research Hanok, Eco-friendly architecture with floor heating system in Korean Traditional Architecture. Hanok sought to create a living space based on the coexistence of nature and humans. The environment-friendly aspects of traditional Korean houses range from the structure’s inner layout to the building materials which were used. The raw materials used in Hanok, such as soil, timber, and rock, are all natural and recyclable and do not cause pollution. Another unique feature of traditional houses is their special design for cooling the interior in summer and heating the interior in winter. Since Korea has hot summers and cold winters, the ‘ondol〔gudeul〕’, a floor-based heating system, and ‘daecheong,’ a cool wooden-floor style hall were devised long ago to help Koreans survive the frigid winters and to block sunlight during summer. These primitive types of heating and air conditioning were so effective that they are still in use in many homes today.

 Especially, main heating system, Ondol means “warm stone.” Made by putting mud over sub-floor heating stones, Ondol is a main feature of traditional Korean houses. The floor of the Ondol room is made of flat stones and mud, and tunnels through which smoke can pass under the flat stones. A Butumak, which is a stove, and a chimney are outside the Ondol room at the entrance, and the exit of smoke is through a pathway beneath the floor. When the Butumak is lit, hot smoke flows beneath the sub-floor heating stones and warms the room. Ondol was originally fired by wood, but modern homes and apartments are built with heating pipes embedded in the floors. Heated water circulating through the pipes, warmed by gas or electricity, makes the floor warm in all the rooms of a house. In South Korea, over 90% of the houses have radiant ondol floor heating.

 Ondol is a very efficient heating system during the winter both environmentally and economically. This is because heat energy gets trapped under the floors so it can keep the room warm for a long time with a very small amount of fuel. According to an article, “An Energy Saving Technique Using Ondol Heating Schedule Control of Housing Units in Korea”, after one heating, the floor remains warm for ten days in spring and fall, and for three days in winter, even when the temperature is below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, during the summer, the under-floor stones keep the room cool. It brings about an energy saving effect of up to 20 percent per building compared to a western heating that can transfer no more than a fifth of the total heat energy into the room. It means that we do not need to waste the energy such as electricity and gas in order to warm the room. In addition to this, the heat is used to cook as well. Through this structure that can use the heat in the room and kitchen, we could avoid duplicated use of energy. As a result, if every building installs the Ondol system, the world can save the amount of gas and postpone the day when energy is exhausted.

The West green building market has discovered the advantages of ondol and has been catching up rapidly. The growing interest in ondol has been motivated by the recent global effort that advocates sustainable development. The green building field was not an exception. The architects have tried to make sustainable design or environmentally friendly design. And they began to see the ondol as a potential green building material expecting an economical effect of exceeding over a billion dollar per year. As a result, ondol was selected as a draft international standard by International Standard Organization Technology Committee. At the same time, ondol is installed by over a half of new buildings in the western Europe. The U.S.’s ondol market is also developing over 20 percent annually with the slogan, Green Building, Well Being, Energy Efficient.


Entry filed under: Green building in Korea.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. miyeon1020  |  May 10, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Even if Korea’s modern residential structure is not this Hanok, we can find these houses preserved by government or some people in Korea easily. I strongly recommend this building structure and Ondol system for green building to save energy. For this reason, Korean government is trying to maintain and use this structure more practically. And there are not only this energy efficient effect, but also healthful effect of the long wavelength infrared rays that are radiated from the stone and red soils, which are a main component of ondol. In addition to this, in the ondol room, everyone has to take off shoes. So, it dramatically reduces the indoor air dust as well.


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