Seoul. The Imprint by MVRDV is a chameleon-like architecture

The Dutch firm’s latest design takes the relationship between the building and its context to the paradoxical extremes of a full mimesis.

MVRDV, The Imprint, Seoul, Korea, 2018

The Imprint belongs to a fortunate tradition of almost “automatic” architectures, based on a clear concept, and shaped according to a straightforward sequence of few steps. This lineage originated in the Netherland in the nineties, and it is still kept alive by many of its initiators. Amongst them is MVRDV, whose formal research has crossed over almost three decades, under the banner of the most light-free eclecticism. The commission to design two out of the six buildings of Paradise City, an entertainment complex in the vicinity of Seoul’s international airport, is the occasion to add a new chapter to it.
The negative of all the details, bumps and recesses of the surrounding buildings is draped over the façades of The Imprint. Its ornate and completely windowless elevations function as two-dimensional backdrops, partially warping and lifting from the ground. By doing so, they unveil colorful, almost mind-bending interiors, a glittering magma of mirroring ceilings and backlit floors. 

An indoor theme park and a night club are hosted inside this flamboyant architecture, somewhat echoing both Rachel Whiterhead’s molds and James Wines’s BEST supermarkets.
According to Winy Maas, a founder of MVRDV, the specific treatment of The Imprint’s elevations “connects it with the neighbors (…) ensuring coherence” so that Paraside City won’t be “a collection of individual objects such as Las Vegas, but a real city”.  Whether Maas is actually updating the eternal dilemma of the relationship between architecture and its context, or rather he is utterly ridiculing it through its blatant caricature, and whether Paradise City becomes a city, a theme park (or even both), one thing is certain: The Imprint candidates as a regular fixture for all the most hilarious architecture weirdness ‘best of’ for the next decade.

MVRDV, The Imprint, Seoul, Korea, 2018
MVRDV, The Imprint, Seoul, Korea, 2018
The Imprint
night club, theme park
Seoul, Korea
GANSAM Architects & Partners
Project leader:
Winy Maas
Wenchian Shi
Project team:
María López Calleja, Daehee Suk, Xiaoting Chen, Kyosuk Lee, Guang Ruey Tan, Stavros Gargaretas, Mafalda Rangel, Dong Min Lee
Façade consultant:
VS­A Group Ltd
Panelization consultant:
L’Observatoire International

Latest on Architecture

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram