MVRDV, The Cloud

MVRDV's design for luxury residential high-rises connects two towers with 'pixelated' space, and initiates controversy.

Yongsan Dream Hub corporation presented last week the MVRDV designed residential development of the Yongsan Business district: two connected luxury residential high-rises. A 260-meter tall tower and a 300-meter tall tower are connected in the centre by a pixelated cloud of additional program offering amenities and outside spaces with wide views. The form of the connective space has initiated controversy among people sensitive to an ostensible visual similarity to the fireballs from the World Trade Center on 9/11.

After receiving numerous complaints—and it is suggested, threats—MVRDV posted this statement on their Facebook page :
"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 apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, the design was not meant to provoke this."
The Cloud is located at the entrance to the Dreamhub masterplan
The Cloud is located at the entrance to the Dreamhub masterplan
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 towers with a total surface of 128,000m2 are expected to be completed in 2015. 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.

MVRDV has said they sought a way to add space to to the conventional tower typology that could include additional programming. Usually a high-rise adds little to the immediate surrounding city life; by integrating public program to the cloud, the design 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 Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea
The Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea
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.
The interior of the Sky lounge
The interior of the Sky lounge
The controversy recalls sensitivities that have long fumed over every aspect of the redesign of the World Trade Center itself. As reported in Paul Goldberger's Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture, and the Rebuilding of New York in a crucial stage of the final design competition, the design by the Rafael Viñoly-led THINK team was favored by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. After competing architect Daniel Libeskind publicly called Viñoly's towers "skeletons in the sky," the opinion of New York governor George Pataki seemed to turn against the scheme, which in turn influenced the LMDC's final selection. As this design is not final nor sited in the United States, it will be intriguing to see how closely The Cloud's development hews to these early visions.
The lobby of The Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea
The lobby of The Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea
The interior of The Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea
The interior of The Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea

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