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".

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, 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 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.


KEIM Royalan in gold

MVRDV, Rotterdam / Netherlands

Gansam Architects & Partners, Seoul / South Korea

Façade planner: 
VS-A Group Ltd., Seoul / South Korea

Façade construction: 
Tec-Wall-Korea Co. Ltd.

September 2018


Image source: Tec Wall Korea




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