MVRDV's Cloud reinvents the skyscraper


December 10, 2011

The Cloud is design at its cleverest

The Cloud is design at its cleverest

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There's a bit of controversy going around about Dutch architect MVRDV's design for a residential environment in South Korea. Some people are concerned about the resemblance of MVRDV's "Cloud" to a twin towers explosion.

Yes, it is a 9-11 lookalike but it's not meant to be - it's a cloud - and an ingenious reinvention of the skyscraper using glass and sky and light and sun.

The Cloud building comprises two luxury high-rise residential towers - one 54 floors and 260 meters, the other 60 floors and 300 meters - and halfway up, there's a cloud of architecture ten floors deep, spanning both buildings and beyond.

The space is so large that it can take the shopping, services and space that is normally underneath a residential complex (services, shared areas, etc) and relocate it in a more convenient form, closer to its users.

This makes space at ground floor level for public gardens. Instead of a concrete obstacle in the center of the community, there's a park, thereby creating a radically different ambiance for the building's immediate surroundings for all.

Inside the cloud's 14,357square meter volume, there's a huge connecting atrium, which is bathed in light at different times of the day by the use of angled and carefully positioned - a kaleidoscope very attuned to nature and envisaged to be still and calming.

The cloud contains all the services you'd normally expect at ground level plus lifestyle services in keeping with the nature of the building, such as a wellness centre, conference center, fitness studio, various pools, restaurants and cafes.

In addition to the retail and top of the cloud are a series of public and private outside spaces, patios, decks, gardens and pools. Underneath, glass floors can be used for other purposes.

The outer surfaces of the cloud are going to the most expensive parts as they will have some of the most spectacular views - large common areas, cafes and restaurants and 9,000 square meters of Office-Hotel are planned.

Similarly, some of the more luxurious 260 square meter apartments imaginable will be thereabouts too. Normally, the amount of square footage available on top of a skyscraper is limited. The cloud design multiplies the amount of rooftop real estate by several orders of magnitude, creating very high priced real estate.

These areas atop the cloud will contain apartments of immense luxury with complete seclusion and privacy, just metres away from a vibrant community.

Private apartments above and beneath the cloud will include massive balconies, double height ceilings, pools and gardens.

Alternatively, the top floors of both towers are penthouse apartments of 1200m2 with private roof gardens.

Tennant parking is underground, each tower is accessed via a grand lobby and dedicated express elevators take people into the cloud from the parking area inside a few seconds. A metro train station is five minutes walk.

MVRDV has an interesting portfolio, which completely validates its cloud metaphor. Its understanding of community design makes it far more than just another architectural company. It specializes in urban futures, it is part of an important urban environment think-tank run in conjunction with Delft University of Technology named The Why Factory (T?F).

T?F concentrates on the vizualization and production of models for future cities. The foundation is well worth a look for architectural students and the knowledge it creates is stored through a evolutionary gaming program - all bleeding edge thinking.

My favourite among the projects envisioned by MVRDV is this one.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

looks like someone has been playing to much minecraft

Kieran Isherwood

Ingenious, sure. Inflammatory, you bet. Maybe someone should design something to remind the Dutch of the Nazi occupation and see how they like it.


I like the vision of trees in skyscraper buildings, but I wonder how they'll be planted, anchored and how they can survive the harsh wind conditions. You'll probably have to have some square meters of soil under each tree, removing much housing space.

PS: I wasn't reminded of the twin-towers. But I guess there would be enough politically-overcorrect to raise their voices.


@ Kieran Isherwood will it protect you from zombies tho ? that\'s got to be the biggest issue.


That balcony/reflecting pool/railing detiail is nice. A passive barrier before a physical barrier could alleviate a lot of tention. Like.

Unfortunately I think there are some engineering hurdles for the \"cloud\" section. To my understanding, the sheer surfaces of tall structures are necessary to defelect the path of prevailing winds. I can only imagine the additonal loads in high wind situation with all those surfaces creating pockets to trap air.

Andrew Rockefeller

People need to get past the \"everything is reminiscent and can be tied to 9/11\" mentality. It is a building of good design pure and simple.

Also, to Kieran, try taking a trip to other countries or at the very least do some research. They don\'t need to build something new to remind them of the Nazi occupation as there are still remnants of the concentration camps in various locations in Europe.


I\'m not sure how many of the the comment posters are Architects (I am.) Most responsible designers are sensitive to as wide a range of reactions to their work as possible - in fact, that is basic to the approach to design. After all, if not for others, why do we do what we do? It\'s extremely arrogant to create monuments to oneself. Thus, in light of what the imagery evokes, it would seem that a re-thinking of the design might be appropriate (although it\'s difficult to imagine that this wouldn\'t have come up in MDRDV\'s internal design reviews.) It\'s not political correctness or a matter or over-sensitivity - it\'s just good Architectural Design practice.


It is a very fine design but, it does resemble the twin towers a bit too much. I can only imagine how those who witnessed this tragedy first hand will feel when they see it. Maybe after a few more decades have past by it will be more acceptable to the eye.


I DETEST heights!


people that support comments like \'it resembles 911\' are hypocrites. it\'s just design, art - if it bothers someone, that someone is the problem. this \"politically correctness\" hypocrisy is idiocy. in today\'s world everything is either racist or discriminatory, but it\'s not - there just too many pussys. Before many people say anything now, they consult themselfs with questions like \"is this offesnive in anyways?\" which is a real problem. And also not addressing an issue, even if it really was for example 911, is not an answer for any of these PTSD SOBs. Back on subject, the design of the cloud is very interesting and purposeful. Looks good too.

Manuel Borbely

I want the apartment right in the middle somewhere from the middle of the cloud or a bit lower so I have a clear shot to the ground . This way all I need is a parachute to get down . What a great thrill that would be to start the day....

Jim Andrews

weihan you are hypocritical , the design would be nice if not for the fact it so closely resembles the TWIN TOWERS so use criticism against people for speaking there minds is childish and slanderous. people will think what they want and to those who see it as an artwork congrats you have inspirations. but those who dont have pain and sorrow. no need to rub things in

Chad VanLoo

i get dizzy just looking at that illastration of the old guy sitting with the glass floor looking way down.who could live in such a space?

Cowfy Kaufman

Just wanted to amend my earlier comment to address VoiceofReason\'s post instead of Kieran\'s post.


Those who deny that this is an attempt to make a building look like the 9/11 tragedy make absolutely no sense. The U.S. should no longer support South Korea, and see how they fair against North Korea (who would love the design of the towers, by the way). Even if it wasn\'t meant to represent the twin towers on 9/11, this design should not even be given a second thought. Why not make the top of a tall structure look bulbous like a tree? There must be other designs than this!!!


First of all, I have an important remark about the comments section of this site. It is confusing whose comment belongs to whom, because the small text balloon icon next to each commentator\'s name indicates as if the text below it is their comment which is not! A lot of sites display name first, then text in their comment section! The dotted line is the only way to make sense of whose comments you\'re reading. But the meaning of that can be ambiguous! And it doesn\'t stand out. With that out of the way.

Some of these comments are just ridiculous (as I would expect of the Internet). This isn\'t going to be built in America. This is one of the fewer buildings I\'d like to be seen built. It is stunning. The large cloud section is only possible with two tall towers! If it was one, the cloud section wouldn\'t be that majestic and would just take out its flair.

Face it. The idea behind the Twin towers is totally different than this project. People just like to make excuses and get upset by things they see, when it isn\'t there. It is time to stop letting these symbols you see dictate what you feel and accept this step towards the future. Not taking a step back.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

No, it is not \" design at its cleverest\"; it is design at its most macabre. Really?!? What color is the sky in MVRDV\'s little world where they think this kind of architectural joke is acceptable? Regardless of what you may think of 9-11, this is still waaaay out of line. Hope the people who commissioned this abortion cancelled payment on the check.


Wow...that first picture looks like some sort of Dark and foreboding distopian blade-runner-esque city scape...All it needs is a giant blimp screaming at you in some unintelligible asian language!


Interesting design. Ugh Americans.....everything is about them. Aside from the obvious twin tower system how does it resemble the WTC? We are not allowed to build twin towers anymore?

Marian Rodu

As a Dutch guy liking the western culture and values of mutual respect and forward thinking most of the comments posted in their own way just don\'t respect these values. Why would the imagination of the designers creating a building for a culture completely different than the west have to adhere tomwestern ethics? Architecture is a form of art. I\'ve seen art installations with 1000x worse taste than this. People please be wary of the context this building is intended to be places in.. Clearly not the context of US.. but blocking art and expression resembles the Nazi occupation more than creativity and innovation this project has brought to the world as a whole. History of mankind is a series of events no one should be proud of! We (the top 2% wealthy people) are wrecking our planet at an alarming rate.. It\'s projects like these that try to catch attention for this FACT.. And like all art.. either you love it or you hate it...

Peace out

Paul Meerts

The design of this skyscraper is amazing - in the night and in the day. The overall shape and structure is modern, while also very welcoming. The large windows and white walls produce a very clean look and feel. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Robison

If you think this really looks like exploding twin towers then you must see everything pixellated, even so it's for South Korea not America stop whining already.

That being said, this is a wonderful design, strongly reminds me of those multilayered cities in science fiction novels maybe in the future, they will structurally join it with another skyscraper, for an even larger shopping area till it grows to become a commerical district, maybe even with multilevel trainlines.

Alex Aricci
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