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Tuesday29 July 2014

Outrage over MVRDV's '9/11 twin towers' design

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Dutch architect apologises for design that ‘resembles towers collapsing’

Dutch practice MVRDV has been forced to apologise after its design for a pair of residential towers in South Korea was likened to images of the 9/11 twin towers coming down.

Called the Cloud, the project was presented to developer Dream Corporation by the Rotterdam firm in the South Korean capital Seoul last Wednesday.

The larger tower is 300m tall with the smaller tower measuring 260m. Both are connected by what the architect calls a “pixelated cloud of additional program”.

But the firm has been stung by criticism from people in the US and its native Holland after it decided to post the images on its Facebook page. Critics said the towers looked like the twin towers of the World Trade Centre beginning to collapse following the terrorist attacks.

MVRDV spokesman Jan Knikker told BD the practice had been sent abusive emails, and staff had been verbally abused over the phone. One poster on the US conservative website, Blaze, said: “Why don’t they just build a mosque on the top too?” And another added: “This is disrespectful at the least and should not be able to be done.”

Knikker added:  “We’ve had quite a lot of calls from angry Americans saying it’s a disgrace. 9/11 was not the inspiration behind the design, the inspiration was a real cloud.”

He said the firm had not meant to cause offence and denied it was anti-American, adding that it had worked for free on the rebuilding of New Orleans in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process,” he added. “We sincerely apologise to anyone whose feelings we have hurt.”

He added that Dream Corporation had picked the Cloud design from a number of options it was given and said it was the client’s decision as to whether it would now look at an alternative.

The towers are part of a masterplan designed by US architect Daniel Libeskind – the architect behind the masterplan of the Word Trade Centre site in New York – while public gardens have been designed by another US practice Martha Schwartz.

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Readers' comments (11)

  • FLAB Architects

    Here at FLAB Architects we have introduced a tough internal design review process to identify unfortunate serendipitous symbolic events.

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  • Interesting example for architectural memories that might become heartful to some. Not much graceful, but shear demonstration for the power of architecture !

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  • Idan Schein says it's a demonstration of the power of architecture, but I don't think architecture comes into it. I'm so tired of seeing these idle, abstract ideas applied to the design of very large buildings. Of seeing designs that try to create an 'image' of something or that are 'inspired' by something completely unrelated to the building itself, its location or purpose. In this case we are supposed to believe it is inspired by "a real cloud". So what? At the end of the day it's just another boring and unsustainable pair of 300m tower blocks. Let's get real.

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  • Boo Hoo.

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  • anyone else smell pr stunt?

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  • Roy Walker

    It's good, but it's not right!

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  • i2hellfire

    @Michael O'Neill you must be joking. taking off the tin-foil hat you nut.

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  • Even if 9/11 didn't happen, this would still be classified as rubbish architecture in my book!!

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  • Mike Duriez

    This is the kind of oblique statement that Philip Johnston would have enjoyed if he were still alive.

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  • comment to Pateick Henry and Ian Layzel -
    wheather it is architecture or architectureless it is a matter of taste and terminology. I agree and to my view in terms of representation, it is basically two structures with an abstraction of frozen rubish. But architecture merits should also be judged by its reference to physical and cultural situation, and thats where that scheme clearly fails. It is taistless and its resemblence to the 9-11- which is ironically being both its power and its superficiality - does no good for it at all.

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