YEEEEEHAAAAA!!!  Our team project was selected as one of the 10 Honorable Mentions!

Chris and I entered a student competition called "120 HOURS" last month, thinking that it would be fun to work on a project within the span of 5 days (120 hours).  We were also quite fed up with the mundane projects of our school, so we hoped this would be a good rejuvenating experience.  The competition, dubbed as "one of the worlds most important student competition, for and by architecture students," particularly appealed to us as its main focus was on a conceptual design – no technical drawings, no construction details – pure creativity.

The prompt of this year's task was the following:
Design a structure on the festival site that can function as a meeting point and attraction that communicates a sustainable statement. The project should present an immersive experience within the structure itself, as well as deliver an impact beyond the festival site.
The word that got us really struggling was "sustainable".  It's one of those words that has been thrown around way too many times within the past few years that the word almost lost its value, becoming on of my least favorite words.  Nonetheless, sustainability is what the world needs more than ever today, so we seriously thought about what message we want to give regarding sustainability through our design proposal.

Our stance on sustainability:
  It seems odd that advanced technology and our lack of understanding of it, has put us in the situation we are in now.  Yet, society continues to invent technology as a solution to combat these problems.  Why are we trying to dig our selves out of this hole?
  Sustainability is a way of thinking, a perspective.  It’s an understanding of materials and your surroundings as a part of a process.  Things come from somewhere and eventually must go somewhere, a process that needs to be managed from beginning to end.  During the lifespan, they should be efficiently used.  Creating things that are environmentally sustainable become of little use when they have no societal value.  They must be of value to us, but also economically accessible.
Our design description:
  Constructing a large structure to demonstrate sustainability seemed contradictory. Our idea was to strip it down to the bare necessities and use the existing structure of the trees. With hemp rope and loosely woven ramie fabric, a series of intimate and open spaces are created. This fluid structure is not completely open, giving the illusion of intimacy. Our meeting point is clearly visible, while leaving no footprint on the site. It is temporary in existence and temporary in appearance. Delicate, flowing, open, and closed. It is flexible to movement, fluid and serene. This structure can be easily set up and then taken down to be used again.
  Sustainability is not using solar-panels and titanium nano-particle filters, but it is more like the way we built forts out of bedsheets as a kid.



Every now and then, we meet extraordinary people who change the way we view things.

My mother told me of a lovely Czech couple who had visited our restaurant one day, telling me how much they loved the food and even made their own kimchi at home.  A few days later, we got an email from them – Gabriela and Jan – thanking my mom for the experience and inviting us to their home for Christmas.

When my parents and I went to Gabriela and Jan's house on Christmas Day, we could already see Gabriela peeking out the window waiting for us.  She came outside to greet us with such a warm and welcoming smile - something I haven't seen much of in Prague.  As we stepped in to their cozy house, we noticed an A4 sheet taped on their entrance door written: "Welcome our dear Korean guests!" with a Korean and Czech flag printed below.  Looking at that sign really made me think a lot – of the times when my family was not so welcomed by the Czechs... of the times when I used to think negatively of the locals... of the times I really dreaded this country.  That sheet of paper was the first act of my past preconceptions being challenged and proven wrong this day.

Just as I thought things couldn't get any sweeter and cozier, we entered the dining room that was covered with all sorts of framed photographs, postcards, and artwork.  On the dining table were decorations and beautiful Czech blue onion porcelain plates, with a printed out menu informing us what we were about to eat and drink.  Yes, they had even prepared a menu for us.  So many good vibes before we even started eating! 

The 3-course traditional Czech meal Jan had cooked for us consisted of a delicious fish soup, smoked ham in plum sauce with dumplings, and baked goods with tea and coffee.  The hearty meal alone could have satisfied my first real Czech Christmas experience, but what really touched my heart this day was Gabriela and Jan's kindness and openness to my family.  Just to remind you, these are people my mom has only met once at her restaurant.  By no means where they obliged to open up their house to us nor show us such generous hospitality.  There were times when I just leaned back and watched as Jan shared his stories from the WWII with my dad, and as Gabriela and my mom exchanged conversations about learning Czech over a cup of tea.  The moments were so beautiful, and I was so grateful and hopeful.

At the end of the day, Gabriela bid us farewell with big hug saying "I love you, come back whenever."  This was my family's first Christmas meal at a Czech house since we moved here 21 years ago, and it certainly will be a Christmas I will remember for a very long time. DÄ›kujeme.



I am a pig in the mountains.

A creature like you doesn't belong here.
I am a pig in the mountains.
Don't squeal at me you filthy animal.
I am a pig in the mountains.
You will never be a part of us.
I am a pig in the mountains.
Go back where you came from.

But I am a pig from the mountains.

I was 4 years old when my family moved to the Czech Republic from Korea.  Every corner of this land was magical.  But living in this fantasy place came with a consequence when you had a different skin color. 

Admitting my past of being discriminated and bullied was something I have been ashamed of, thinking it would make me 'uncool,' but I discovered how the painful memories could contribute to the maturation of my creativity.

A pastiche to artist Edward Ruscha's paintings, some viewers may be confused and even find it upsetting to see the word PIG placed in front of the mountain landscape.  And that is, in a sense, exactly how I want the viewers to feel. 

Why can't a pig be in the mountains? 
Is it that hard to accept a pig in the mountains? 



I’m starting over. Everyone likes starting over, right? 
Let me start off by re-introducing myself. My name is Jason. I am a Korean, who grew up in Czech Republic, and spent the last 9 years studying in America. I studied architecture at Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design and recently moved back to Prague to continue my studies at the Architectural Institute in Prague (ARCHIP).
The most frequently asked question lately: Why leave such a good program for a virtually unknown school?
Because I can. Ha. 
But really, the biggest reason was: I felt trapped in America. I was being told how to chase happiness instead of finding it in the present. For me, institutions can only go so far in educating me. I’m a type that not only needs to hear stuff but to actually see and feel the stuff.
It’s a big risk, but hey, this is what makes life exciting. Like a frog taking its step back before making its big jump forward, I wanted to step back from the chasing.
So here I am. Back in Prague, the city I call my home. And this is my preparation to make the big leap forward.



I’m not a good sketcher at all. I never learned how to draw, which was why I always avoided sketching as much as possible. When my friend Daniel from Virginia Tech visited Prague, he encouraged me to join him when sketching. Here it is: my sketch of the Dancing House by Frank Gehry. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my drawing actually somewhat resembled the building. Because I was an architecture student, I was ashamed of my poor drawing skills, but at this particular day, I was motivated to stop being so afraid of “not being good” at something. After all, you gotta start at some point, right?

The Dancing House has a special place in my childhood not necessarily for its aesthetics, but because it showed me what architecture can also look like. It was a “whoa” moment as a kid. So in a way, I’m glad that my first step to conquering this fear(?) of drawing started at the place where my dream to be an architect was sparked.