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The Imprint, SΓ©oul, CorΓ©e du Sud

Not far from South Korea's largest airport Incheon is "Paradise City", an amusement and entertainment centre that was expanded in 2018 with two illustrious new buildings. "The Imprint" houses a nightclub and the "Wonderbox", an indoor entertainment park. Because both uses do not require natural lighting, it was possible to do without windows and reduce the building volumes to plain cubes. But the architects from MVRDV transformed the cubic idea into a very unique staging through a sophisticated façade concept.

Tec-Wall-Korea Co. Ltd.
Seoul, South Korea
  • Royalan

Striking gold

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 facade constructor Tec-Wall produced and installed 3869 different modules to make the dummy facade. But MVRDV did not stop there and topped everything with a theatrical gesture.

The architects have not used conventional entrances. Instead the facades 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 facades 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.

Where the curtain rises

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 facade 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 facade, 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, all-encompassing 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 facades. The painters used ropes hanging from the eaves like the professional climbers who work in industry.

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A luminous accent, even at night

Whilst the facade that faces the central square shimmers almost entirely in gold, only a fraction of the side facades 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 facades are illuminated by floor lighting that emphasises the relief, downlights accentuate the golden facade areas – this creates the astonishing impression of encountering an early morning sunbeam in the dark.

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Products used in this project

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