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.