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The imprint at Paradise City
Tec-Wall-Korea Co. Ltd.

The Imprint at Paradise City

MVRDV as Architects

MVRDV has completed construction on The Imprint, a new 2-building art-entertainment complex in close proximity to Seoul’s Incheon Airport. Featuring a nightclub in one building and indoor theme park in the other, the windowless structures feature three key design elements: imprints of the façade features of surrounding buildings, lifted entrances, and a golden entrance spot covering one corner of the nightclub building.

MVRDV’s The Imprint is part of the larger Paradise City complex of 6 buildings in total, which will provide a full suite of entertainment and hotel attractions less than a kilometre away from South Korea’s largest airport. Given the proposed programme of the 2 buildings – a nightclub and indoor theme park – the client required a design with no windows, yet one that still integrated with the other buildings in the complex. The design of The Imprint therefore arises from a simple question: can we design an expressive façade that connects with its surroundings even though it has no windows?

The design achieves this by projecting the façades of the surrounding buildings in the complex, which are ‘draped’ over the simple building forms and plazas like a shadow, and ‘imprinted’ as a relief pattern onto the façades.

“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,” says 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.”

In order to achieve the desired ‘imprint’ of the surrounding buildings, the façade of The Imprint is constructed of glass-fibre reinforced concrete panels. As many of the 3,869 panels are unique, the construction required moulds to be individually produced using MVRDV’s 3D modelling files from the design phase. Once installed, these panels were painted white in order to emphasise the relief in the design.

As Winy Maas explains: “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. 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.”

The entrances, where the façades are lifted like a curtain to reveal mirrored ceilings and glass media floors, exude a sense of the excitement happening inside. “Reflection and theatricality are therefore combined,” concludes 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. Giorgio de Chirico would have liked to paint it, I think."

Credit List


Architect: MVRDV

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

Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode

Copyright: MVRDV 2018 – (Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries)




Co-Architect: GANSAM Architects & Partners, South Korea

Façade Consultant: VS-A Group Ltd

Panelization Consultant: WITHWORKS

GFRC: Techwall

Lighting: L’Observatoire International

Striking Gold

KEIM as Manufacturers

The brilliance of gold is always fascinating even in times of digital virtualisation. The Dutch architects MVRDV play with this effect on the curtain wall of the Seoul entertainment centre "The Imprint". The gold comes from KEIMFARBEN.

Not far from Incheon, South Korea's largest airport, is "Paradise City", a leisure and entertainment centre that was extended in 2018 with two impressive new buildings. These two new buildings are known as "The Imprint", which is home to a night club and has around 6,200 square meters of floor space, and the "Wonderbox", an indoor entertainment park that has an area of 3,600 square meters. As neither of these require natural lighting, there was no need for windows and the form of the buildings has been reduced to simple cubes. But the architects at the MVRDV office transformed the idea of using cubes with their very own interpretation using an ingenious design for the façade.

Where the curtain rises
Strictly speaking, the glass fibre reinforced concrete curtain panels form an independent layer, which takes its structures and forms from the immediate surroundings. Windows, arches, squares and doors do not really exist, they are only present in relief and remain basically blind and with no function. What is interesting is that the relief has been inverted, the joints of the stone ashlar rise upwards from the flat surface. The Korean façade constructor Tec-Wall produced and installed 3869 different modules to make the dummy façade. But MVRDV did not stop there and topped everything with a theatrical gesture. The architects have not used conventional entrances. Instead the façades are raised like real curtains held in place by unknown forces. An entire corner of the building looks particularly impressive as it morphs upwards, with the line of the eaves rising accordingly. And where the façades rise out of the ground, the lighting effects catch the eye as they shift colours playfully. Almost all of the VHF panels were given a white coating after they had been installed.

Golden shimmer using a roller
The client and investor were so enthusiastic about the idea of the airy curtain and the relief that they wanted to emphasize the artistic approach even more. The result is golden: The nightclub cube was given a luminous coating of KEIM Royalan in gold. This mineral-based façade paint was specifically designed for tropical climates, as well as being durable, lightfast, water-repellent, vapour-permeable and it produces a matt, velvety surface. In other words, it has a quality that visually underlines the effect of the golden pigmentation: a soft shimmer covers the plastically shaped façade, which placed very special demands on how the paint was applied. After all, the large number of joints, folds and curves as well as the decorative elements were supposed to present the appearance of a uniform, allencompassing colour. Almost all of the paint itself was applied using a roller directly onto the concrete panels, which partially levelled the surfaces before the final coat of paint. Joints were smoothed out with special joint brushes; in most cases, the large number of projections and recesses and the three-dimensional shape of the base structure required careful work. In line with Asian practice, no scaffolding was used on the façades. The painters used ropes hanging from the eaves like the professional climbers who work in industry.

A luminous accent, even at night
Whilst the façade that faces the central square shimmers almost entirely in gold, only a fraction of the side façades is gold, the rear of the nightclub is not gold at all. The full effect only becomes clear from a bird's eye view when the surfaces unite. 

Situated in the approach corridor of the airport, the gold areas combine to create a large, circular advertising area that attracts the attention of passengers from all over the world. At night this effect is even more intense: whilst the white façades are illuminated by floor lighting that emphasises the relief, downlights accentuate the golden façade areas – this creates the astonishing impression of encountering an early morning sunbeam in the dark.


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