Head in the clouds?

12 Dec 2011

MVRDV's newly unveiled residential project in South Korea said to resemble 9/11 attacks

Last week Dutch firm MVRDV presented their latest project - a pair of elevated residential towers in South Korea - which was met with much controversy from the international press. One after another, online and print publications blasted building’s architects, saying that the connecting ‘cloud’ between the two pillars ‘bears similarity to the fireball that engulfed the twin towers in New York 10 years ago’ [The Telegraph].

The concept itself includes two giant towers at 260m and 300m in height connected by a ‘pixelated cloud’ which incorporates a number of additional amenities and external spaces. This central 10-floor bridge is the area that has acted ignited such fury as it is said to reflect the plume of smoke that was ejected as the hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers in New York during the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

MVRDV are famous for their ambitious design concepts, many of which are seen through to completion. When WAN posted news of the recently completed Balancing Barn scheme in Suffolk, UK, we were flooded with honest comments dissecting the design of the cantilevered countryside home. The firm’s Alphabet Building in Amsterdam with met with equally harsh criticism.

This said the pair of South Korean residential towers for the Yongsan Dream Hub Corporation may take the title of most controversial concept. The design has been met by fury from those who have termed the release of these designs ‘a cheap publicity stunt’ to the point where MVRDV has admitted on its Facebook page that ‘we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people call us Al Qaeda lovers or worse’. Several hundred users of the social media site have left their heartfelt comments under a recent post on MVRDV’s Facebook page.

In response to the backlash the practice has published an official apology on its website which reads: “MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11. The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper.

“It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologise to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, it was not our intention. The design inspiration of The Cloud is visualised in the first image on our website, a cloud covering the centre of the skyscraper [see left].”

Despite gathering controversy, MVRDV has confirmed that the project will press ahead with a completion date set for 2015. MVRDV is the lead architect and is working on the scheme with architect of record Siaplan, Arup, Benoy Retail Architects and Martha Schwartz Partners for the landscape.

Unfortunate oversight or ‘cheap publicity stunt’? Let us know in our Your Comments section [see left].

Sian Disson
News Editor

Key Facts

South Korea
MVRDV The Cloud

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team