Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The power of image
Last week, MVRDV released their design for two luxury residential towers in the Yongsan Business District of Seoul. A "pixilated cloud" connects the two towers in the middle with public amenities and outdoor spaces. There's nothing new about pixilation - Herzog & de Meuron, OMA, and BIG all did that before. And it's certainly not the first project to bridge between towers - Steven Holl and Cesar Pelli had that built in other Asian cities already. Yet the design caused huge controversy, mainly because of the eerie renderings. They really look like WTC on 9/11!
People do judge design purely from images nowadays. A bad image alone would be powerful enough to kill the entire project. I can't decide if the renderings were accurate representations of the design. But it is surprising that people at MVRDV, Luxigon, and from the client side all underestimated the power of image and missed the uncanny resemblance.
In response to the angry comments and harsh criticism, MVRDV apologized on its website and released a new image with an actual cloud covering the middle of the towers. They are trying to re-illustrate their concept without really changing the design. I am not sure if this new image (not necessarily new design) is powerful enough to manage the crisis and convince people.