MVRDV has completed a white and gold entertainment complex, The Imprint, next to South Korea's Incheon Airport, with facades that incorporate elements of nearby buildings.
The two buildings contain an indoor theme park and a nightclub. Neither of these needed natural daylight, so MVRDV was able to make them both windowless. As a result, the Dutch studio had free reign with the buildings' facades.
The firm chose to make the structures reference the buildings of the surrounding Paradise City, a hotel resort that serves South Korea's largest airport. Elements of these existing buildings crop up all over the facades of The Imprint.
"By placing, as it were, surrounding buildings into the facades of our buildings and in the central plaza, we connect The Imprint with the neighbours," explained Winy Maas, principal and co-founder of MVRDV.
"This ensures coherence. Paradise City is not a collection of individual objects such as Las Vegas, but a real city."
Windows, doorways and other facade details of the nearby buildings are mapped onto the majority of the new structures.
Due to the complexity of facades, the numerous individual panels are made from glass-fibre reinforced concrete that were cast in moulds produced using the architects 3D modelling files.
Both buildings are painted white to emphasise the mirrored facade elements, except one facade of the theme park building.
Finished in gold, it is intended to grab the attention of passengers as they land at the airport.
"The virgin building has received a splash of gold," said Maas. "This makes it as if the entrance is also illuminated at night by a ray of sunlight."
"Passengers in the incoming aircraft can already see this 'sun' from above the ocean, as a kind of welcome to South Korea."
An entrance in this golden facade, which has been built to appear like a raised curtain, leads into a walkway through the building.
This walkway has a glass floor made from multimedia screens, which are reflected by the curved mirrored ceilings.
"Reflection and theatricality are therefore combined," said Maas.
"With our design, after the nightly escapades, a zen-like silence follows during the day, providing an almost literally reflective situation for the after parties."
The architect believes that, as well as offering entertainment, the complex could be seen as a work of art.
"Two months ago most of the cladding was done and client said, 'this is an art piece'. What is interesting about that is that they are looking for that momentum – that entertainment can become art or that the building can become artistic in that way," continued Maas.
"What, then, is the difference between architecture an art? The project plays with that and I think that abstraction is part of it, but it has to surprise, seduce and it has to calm down."
MVRDV is led by Maas with Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. The studio also recently revealed plans for a mirrored office block in southern Germany and is designing a rocking viewing platform on the Dutch coast.
Photography is by Ossip van Duivenbode.
Principal-in-charge: Winy Maas
Partner: Wenchian Shi
Design team: María López Calleja with Daehee Suk, Xiaoting Chen, Kyosuk Lee, Guang Ruey Tan, Stavros Gargaretas, Mafalda Rangel, and Dong Min Lee
Co-architect: GANSAM Architects & Partners
Facade consultant: VS-A Group
Panelization consultant: Withworks
Lighting design: EON SLD
Lighting: L'Observatoire International