When the Dutch architecture firm MVRDV based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, revealed the design and plans to build a pair of apartment towers in Seoul, capital of South Korea, in December 2011, little did the company realise what they were in for.
Not surprisingly, this award-winning firm, founded in 1993, had been earlier featured in the American newspapers for having successfully designed several buildings of repute in Cleveland, New Orleans and New York.
The luxury residential towers were named ‘The Cloud’ – with one tower having 54 floors and rising up to a height of 260 metres, and the other reaching 60 floors and over 300 metres in height. The total surface area is 128,000 square metres.
The ‘cloud’ connecting the two towers is housed in a 10-floor-tall structure positioned halfway up the buildings and it features a unit complete with a fitness studio, sky lounges, pools, restaurants, cafes and a conference centre. The building construction is not yet through, with sources stating that it is due to be completed in 2016.
The controversy arose when media reports published the photographs of the pair of the apartment towers in South Korea and carried the news that the towers bore an uncanny resemblance to the famous Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre in New York. And, sure enough, the design of the towers located adjacent to each other, and connected by a ‘pixelated cloud’ was such that they were unbelievably reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre.
According to a statement made by the team following the furore, that was when a media storm started raging, which eventually resulted in open protests, threats and hate mails.
What is more, highly placed officials of the company issued a statement insisting that they did not “see the resemblance” during the design processes for the buildings!
The development took many interesting twists and turns when further newspaper reports made the revelation that the some of the people involved in designing ‘The Cloud’ also happened to be the brains behind the construction of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre complex!
What makes this story even more incredible is how, in the first place, nobody at the firm spotted the resemblance to the Twin Towers. For, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, in which thousands of innocent people died, is bound to remain in the collective memory of the world for a long time.
The story has gone sensational, what with the latest reports revealing that the developer has decided not to alter the project design, despite complaints in the United States from the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The structure is being built at the entrance to Seoul’s redeveloped Yongsan business district and is slated for completion by 2016.