MVRDV gives Seoul the Midas touch

Nick Myall
21 Jul 2016

MVRDV designs an entertainment complex which acts as an echo of its surroundings in Seoul

MVRDV has designed Paradise City, a 9,800 sq m entertainment plaza which sits within a larger tourist hub just 10 minutes from Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea. Two buildings shape a retail complex and a nightclub within fluid, yet monolithic, forms. Each of the buildings takes its profile from its surrounding family, becoming a concrete casting of the façades that look onto them. The square, marked by a giant golden spot, becomes a beacon to those flying into the city. The project is being undertaken in partnership with Gansam Architects who also designed the wider masterplan of the complex. Construction is envisaged to begin in September 2016, to be completed by 2018.

MVRDV’s Paradise City, a dual structured entertainment facility, sits as the centre piece of a new tourist hub in Seoul, South Korea. The sibling buildings, the Sandbox and Nightclub, share an architectural language; both becoming an echo of their family, the immediate surrounding buildings. A golden spot floating over the building and the plaza in front boldly marks the Nightclub entrance; a blast of light before the contrasting dark interior. 

The concrete monolithic forms have no visible windows to the outside world, concealing an introverted shopping centre and nightclub; segments of façade rotate open in their place. The question of how to design an interesting façade whilst only offering glimpses into the building was solved by echoing the surroundings and then manipulating them further. Whilst maintaining their mystery, these structures connect to the urban plan, lifting up at points like a draping curtain, opening up to visitors. As a result, the massive concrete forms distort, suddenly taking on a more fluid aesthetic and becoming softly creased.

“The project takes two simple volumes, which create a new urban space. These masses then take an imprint of the façades around the site, stretching over the two buildings. Thus adapting themselves to the given environment, accepting these conditions as a sine qua non,” explains MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. “The buildings are opened by lifting them like a curtain, unravelling their interior. Then, to top it off is the golden spot, marking the entrance like a sunbeam, making its presence known even from the air and the landing planes at Incheon airport.”  

The 3.600 sq m Sandbox, a retail complex, sweeps around to connect to the casino and offers direct access to visitors. Whilst the Nightclub of 6.200 sq m sits adjacent to it, maintaining its rectilinear position, and hosts not only a nightclub but also a water club and sky-garden on the upper floor. Party goers are led into the structure up a golden tribune, with an integrated ramp, from the drop-off area and through the centre of the sun spot where the gold wall is lifted, creating an opening through which to enter. Paradise City provides the spectacle that entertainment architecture calls for, yet at the same time balances it with a certain calm simplicity.

The project was undertaken in close collaboration with co-architect Gansam Architects & Partners, who also designed the masterplan for the project, as well as VS-A who contributed towards the façades and materials of the buildings. The 33 ha masterplan has already begun construction and MVRDV’s Paradise City is envisioned to break ground in around three months’ time.

Nick Myall

News editor

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South Korea

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