Do These Skyscrapers Remind You Of The 9/11 Attacks? MVRDV Responds

The architects have apparently received a spate of threatening calls and email from people accusing them of being “Al Qaeda lovers or worse.”

Dutch architects MVRDV describe a pair of luxury residential skyscrapers that they plan to build in South Korea as rising through a “pixelated cloud.” Others say the buildings look like the twin towers exploding on 9/11.


Per commenters on Dezeen: “This is like 9/11 freeze framed. What a bad idea…”; “9/11 inspired ???…very nice..!!!”; “This is better suited as Al-Qaeda headquarter[s].” Or as Gizmodo Australia puts it, in a headline: “What The Hell Were These Architects Thinking?”

Not 9/11, they assure us.

“We are highly surprised by the reactions this design has caused as there was no intention to create a resemblance to 9/11 or hurt anybody’s feelings,” MVRDV spokeswoman Isabel Pagel tells Co.Design.

The architects (who’ve apparently received a spate of threatening calls and email accusing them of being “Al Qaeda lovers or worse”) elaborate 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.

MVRDV are career rebels, and whether or not they meant to channel the twin towers–it’s pretty clear that they didn’t–this certainly isn’t the first time that their zany ideas have gotten them into trouble. A few years ago, MVRDV designed a house for Katrina victims as part of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation that, bizarrely, evoked the aftermath of a massive hurricane. In this case, though, the allusion was intentional. As Metropolis’s Andrew Blum reported:

Winy Maas, principal at MVRDV, made no apologies. “People said, ‘Is this a joke?’ And we said, ‘No, it’s serious.’ Because it takes Katrina even more seriously and monumentalizes itself, and it shows that it was there.” No doubt, MVRDV knows how to design functional housing. They just didn’t think that was the point here. “People say, ‘Why would Brad want to do this?’” Maas said just before catching his flight back to the Netherlands. “It’s to address a wider perspective, isn’t it? And then maybe our design embodies that. Provocation is good because it pushes people. We need architectural Michael Moores.”

Sure. But we reckon even Michael Moore would find the cloud towers a tad too provocative. Does MVRDV plan to change the design? “The client has not made a decision yet,” Pagel says, adding that the client, the Yongsan Dream Hub corporation, had at one point considered another scheme, but rejected it in favor of the Cloud because the latter “offers great outdoor spaces with roof gardens, patios and pools, as well as a floor plan which offers large living spaces and excellent lighting and ventilation conditions.”


[Images courtesy of MVRDV]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.