a towering decision

Evil, not value, is an absence and a negation. Evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us. 

Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual

As if ripped from the fiction pages of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, the collective press have clamoured to condemn designs for a skyscraper that daringly breaks with convention.

Called The Cloud, Dutch architect firm MVRDV‘s radical residential design in Seoul, South Korea, calls for a 260m and 300m modern twin skyscraper. Linking the towers together 27 stories above ground, an organically shaped mid-section of enclosed public spaces frees ground space below for open parkland. The project is expected to be completed in 2015.

The twin form rises majestically vertical, its pixellated glazing reaching full expression in the link-form, where a staggered intersection of cubed spaces create an aggregate cloud-like formation. The design is futuristic, recalling other forward thinking designs such as Moshie Safdie’s Habitat building (1967) in Montreal, Canada, or Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan. This cubic formation can be also be seen in the context of many previous MVRDV projects.

MDRDV ‘The Cloud’ Detail of ‘link’ form

The New York Post has called the design ‘sick!’, The Weekly Standard  and the HuffingtonPost condemning The Cloud as ‘awkwardly resembling’ passing smoke from 9/11. To demonstrate its argument, the NewYork Post carefully juxtaposed pictures of the smoke blowing from the World Trade Center following from the plane flight explosions in New York City which claimed the lives of 3000 people, against the design images for The Cloud.

Their own smoke of conspiracy is furthered by seeking to prove that the MVRDV “must have been aware” of its resemblance, as if possible that any in the West could not recall those indelible images of destruction. It noted that Daniel Libeskind was the project developer for both the Ground Zero site and the Yongsan Business District in Seoul. One St Louis news site even asked if the design sought to “mock” the 9/11 tragedy.

On a superficial level, the images, if not the reality could be configured to resemble one another, but for the fact that on every other level, the project and the event are diametric opposites. Which should we choose? To build a monument to an enemy’s ancient lust for death within our memory, or monumentalize our own modern love for innovation in the world? To encourage the construction of beauty or propose that even more such buildings never appear in view?

How to oppose a collective that seeks to raze buildings to the ground: By joining a collective that seeks to prevent them from ever rising? Or, is it time to really strike fear into the hearts of those seeking an end to modern civilisation, by continuing to build it? ♦

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