I am just returning from a short trip to Korea. I was there to present my proposal for the Genius Republic guest houses in a secluded mountain valley four hours from Seoul. My trip has been a successful one–the proposals that I made to the county governor were accepted as a basis for the project, and now we have only to find a way to transform these ideas into a reality.
This project has a special significance in relation to these letters, because it is a project that will literally grow up with your father. My proposal is an unconventional one: to completely integrate a village of guest houses into an enormous working apple orchard. The lines of trees will create serpentine paths through the landscape, and when they open into glades small houses will be revealed within. Visitors will be able to pick their own apples and also learn organic gardening and farming techniques.
We will plant small nursery trees next year–if we use the two year old trees that we have been planning, they will be the same age as your father, and would be thick-trunked, beautiful old apple trees by the time you are born. The variety is likely to be the Alps Otome mini apple, that can be grown in Cheongsong without chemical pesticides.
Apple trees have beautiful white flowers in the spring, thick green leaves in the summer, red fruits in the fall, and bare brown branches in the winter. I love the idea of a whole village changing colour and texture from season to season.
My hope is that by promoting a more integrated architecture that interlocks organically with cultivation, that all of us will develop a keener awareness of the rhythms of life. It is all well and good to put architecture in a beautiful natural setting, but if can also encourage ourselves to re-engage with the very fundamentals of our environment and our health, we will have achieved a little more. I believe that creating a hybrid agriculture and architecture development can take us in this direction.
Working in Korea is a challenge, and I feel that more sharply every time I have a meeting in London that requires nothing more than a short trip on a bicycle. But for a project like this, with aspirations of this kind, I do think it is worth it. I hope that someday I can take you there myself, and we can pick apples as we walk through the architecture that I have made.
All best wishes, your grandfather. 2 August 2015.