While most of the world seems to sit in economic stagnation, twiddling thumbs and sucking the ends of 2B pencils in hope of the next job, Dutch practice MVRDV have forged ahead, unleashing design philosophies and large tomes of their (mostly paper) work onto an unsuspecting public. In their latest case however, it seems to have backfired badly.
“The “Cloud” design unveiled in Seoul last week is supposed to show a cloud covering the centre of the buildings. The company said it proposed the design because it challenged the mundane shape of the typical skyscraper. A pair of luxury residential towers in Seoul would be joined in the middle by a cloud-like shape, billowing out like a tutu around two legs.”
Now, while Dutch design has lead the world for years, and the Royal Dutch Ballet in the Hague is of world class standard, it does make us wonder whether the company have really been studying the tutu, or have been having a swig from something stronger than the traditional bottle of Dutch genevers. While it is always good to see architectural firms stretching their (metaphorical) wings, there is always something more than just a little bit dodgy about efforts from MVRDV. On the one hand we have a tutu, pillowy, soft, light, and in anthropomorphic terms, clearly pelmeting the groin. Two legs below, one torso above, tutu in between: this is what a tutu looks like:
MVRDV’s design, clearly based on an explosive cloud billowing out from the twin towers, somehow made it off the dodgy-idea-pinup board, past the Design and Taste committee, and onto the front pages of the press: in the worst possible way. A word to the Dutchmen: Don’t even try to pretend that you hadn’t noticed the similarities between your design and the Manhattan project – that’s an argument you’re never going to win. Using the death of nearly 3000 people as your design genesis is never going to be a good idea.
If you want to design a cloud, there is a large worm-like structure in Auckland that bears a strong resemblance to something soft and white and fluffy.
Ask Frank Gehry if you want to know how to do stainless steel in billowing folds of fabric, and sit down for a good talk with Steven Holl if you’re keen on graphing the world into little square window openings, whether appropriate or not. But for goodness sake, don’t try the old look of astonished innocence at allegations of impropriety.
The design itself is certainly quite adventurous, appropriating design ideas from all manner of striking precedences (although the striking of Flight 901 etc should not be to the forefront), including the famous Moshe Safdie housing at Habitat 67 – tell me if you’ve seen this before:
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Congratulations to the Architectural Centre for exposing mvrdv as the bunch of pompous asses that they indeed are. What a crap design. How odd that it has been taken so far before being so deservedly shot down.
More on the design of the towers:
“The two towers are positioned at the entrance of the Yongsan Dreamhub project, a master plan designed by Studio Libeskind, extending the business district of the South Korean capital Seoul. The southern tower reaches a height of 260 meters with 54 floors, the northern tower 300 meters with 60 floors. Halfway, at the level of the 27th floor the cloud is positioned, a 10 floor tall pixelated volume, connecting the two towers. The cloud differentiates the project from other luxury developments, it moves the plinth upwards and makes space on ground floor level for public gardens, designed by Martha Schwartz.
Usually a high-rise adds little to the immediate surrounding city life, by integrating public program to the cloud the typology adds in a more social way to the city. Inside the cloud, besides the residential function, 14,357m2 of amenities are located: the sky lounge – a large connecting atrium, a wellness centre, conference centre, fitness studio, various pools, restaurants and cafes. On top of the cloud are a series of public and private outside spaces, patios, decks, gardens and pools. To allow fast access the cloud is accessible by special express elevators.
The luxurious apartments range from 80m2 to 260m2 of which some offer double height ceilings , patios or gardens. The towers with a perfect square floor plan contain four corner apartments per floor offering each fine daylight conditions and cross ventilation. Each tower is accessed via a grand lobby at ground level; the rest of the ground floor is divided into town houses. In addition to the amenities the Cloud furthermore contains 9,000m2 of Officetel (Office-Hotel) a typical Korean typology and 25,000m2 panoramic apartments with specific lay-outs. The top floors of both towers are reserved for penthouse apartments of 1200m2 with private roof gardens.”
and here, from the same source, info on the practice MVRDV itself…
“MVRDV was set up in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. MVRDV engages globally in providing solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues. A research based and highly collaborative design method engages experts from all fields, clients and stakeholders in the creative process. The results are exemplary and outspoken buildings, urban plans, studies and objects, which enable our cities and landscapes to develop towards a better future.
Early projects such as the headquarters for the Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO and housing for elderly WoZoCo in Amsterdam lead to international acclaim.
MVRDV develops its work in a conceptual way, the changing condition is visualised and discussed through designs, sometimes literally through the design and construction of a diagram. The office continues to pursue its fascination and methodical research on density using a method of shaping space through complex amounts of data that accompany contemporary building and design processes.
MVRDV first published a cross section of these study results in FARMAX (1998), followed by a.o. MetaCity/Datatown (1999), Costa Iberica (2000), Regionmaker (2002), 5 Minutes City (2003), KM3 (2005), and more recently Spacefighter (2007) and Skycar City (2007). MVRDV deals with global ecological issues in large scale studies such as Pig City as well as in small pragmatic solutions for devastated areas of New Orleans.
Current projects include various housing projects in the Netherlands, Spain, China, France, the United Kingdom, USA, India, Korea and other countries, a bank headquarter in Oslo, Norway, a public library for Spijkenisse, Netherlands, a central market hall for Rotterdam, a culture plaza in Nanjing, China, the China Cartoon and Animation Museum in Hangzhou, the ROCKmagneten museum in Roskilde, Denmark, large scale urban plans include a plan for an eco-city in Logroño, Spain, an urban vision for the doubling in size of Almere, Netherlands and Grand Paris, the vision of a post-Kyoto Greater Paris region.
The work of MVRDV is exhibited and published world wide and receives international awards. The 70 architects, designers and staff members conceive projects in a multi-disciplinary collaborative design process and apply highest technological and sustainable standards.
Together with Delft University of Technology MVRDV runs The Why Factory, an independent think tank and research institute providing argument for architecture and urbanism by envisioning the city of the future.”