Traditional Korean Wooden Architecture and Building: Daemokjang

February 17, 2018

 

Timber framing as cultural heritage

 

"Build it right. If the wood can withstand seven centuries, I would build a house that is so constructed as to withstand a millennium. 

With this attitude, I would keep woodworking."

—Go Taek Yeong, Skill Holder

 

A Daemokjang is a master architect/builder who has a lifetime of carpentry, design, and engineering skills.

Their duties in home construction begins at the beginning: shaving bark off the wood that will be used to construct the house. With the bark shaved off, he draws lines for the structural timbers and ornamental elements to be cut and carved by carpenters. 

The houses are viewed as living things that must stand a millennium.

Atop the foundation stones, pillars are erected. There are multiple styles of pillar, akin to orders of architecture, to design and build to. Fitting the pillars to the foundation stones requires careful scribing and chiseling (3:30).

The row of pillars features taller pillars on the ends than in the middle, which prevents the edges from appearing to droop.

Like sideways entasis.

The header beam is custom crafted to fit the pillars and then it is lain into the pillars. Ornamental brackets connect the pillars to the header beam. 

Architrave beams go atop the pillars and purlins go on the beams. Ridge purlins are placed above the main beams. Bars across the purlins buttress the weight of rafters. 

All of this is done with a plan for the roof to curve gracefully and naturally, so warped wood is best for rafters. Rafters are numbered and laid out from less-warped to more-warped to reveal the natural curve of the eaves.

Flying rafters are those at the eave corners, and they define the curve pattern. This is where most of the Daemokjang's design energy is concentrated.

With the roof complete, a sign is made documenting the Daemokjang, the carpenters, and the date that the pillars were erected. The sign is placed beneath the final board of the roof.

 

"Build it right. If the wood can withstand seven centuries, I would build a house that is so constructed as to withstand a millennium. 

With this attitude, I would keep woodworking."

—Go Taek Yeong, Skill Holder

 

#worthrepeating

 

— The United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization produced this video. Thank you UNESCO for honoring the craft and keeping it alive.

 


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