MVRDV’s dual-building addition to South Korea’s Paradise City development is a lesson in abstraction. The new structures featuring windowless facades and glowing, curtain-like entry points. The Imprint is the Dutch firm’s idea for an arts and entertainment complex completely made for play.

Located 32 miles from Seoul next to the Incheon Airport, Paradise City is a six-building campus with a hotel, casino, and food court on site. MVRDV’s recently completed buildings, designed in collaboration with Gansam Architects, rounds out the site’s masterplan with two new buildings housing a nightclub and an indoor amusement park. According to the design team, the client challenged them to conceive a design with no windows that also complemented the surrounding buildings.

MVRDV's The Imprint the Paradise City complex in South Korea

One of the buildings is streaked in gold. (Ossip van Duivenbode)

To achieve this, they mirrored the facades of the other structures and draped their outlines over the buildings like shadows. The result is an “imprint” or relief pattern, made out of glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels that were formed from individual molds. By emphasizing the window- and door-like shapes imprinted on the exterior cladding, MVRDV was able to create a texture and depth using different reveals and etched lines. While these forms are entirely real, for all intents and purposes they create a powerful illusion.

MVRDV's The Imprint the Paradise City complex in South Korea

The buildings house a nightclub and an indoor amusement park. (Ossip van Duivenbode)

One of the most surprising design elements is the splash of gold paint that overlaps from one corner of the rectangular nightclub and covers nearly one-third of its elongated facade. The architects lifted a center section of that exterior wall to reveal a curtain-like entryway for visitors to pass through once walking up the stairs to the complex. Inside is a psychedelic passage that brings fun seekers through the belly of the building onto the central plaza of Paradise City. The same scrunched entrance to the tunnel is mimicked on the opposite side of the building where it is painted in white.

MVRDV's The Imprint the Paradise City complex in South Korea

The new MVRDV buildings are imprinted with images of the facades of the surrounding existing buildings. (Ossip van Duivenbode)

The indoor amusement park, a slightly curved, lower-hanging building, also features the expressive relief pattern that’s imprinted on its neighbor, but is strictly painted in a muted white color. A corner of the building is also lifted that serves as an actual entrance and boasts a chromatic and reflective hallway that leads visitors to the circus that’s inside.

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