Unrolling more plans for the Studio Daniel Libeskind-designed Yongsan International Business District in downtown Seoul, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture recently unveiled renderings for the Dancing Dragons, set to go up just steps away from another set of themed twin towers, the unfortunate MVRDV Cloud complex.
Now, rather than resemble a pair of exploding World Trade Center towers, AS+GG’s design has a less inflammatory motif, although hardly less flashy. These supertall mixed-use towers feature a glass skin that floats just above the buildings’ surface, a nod to the overhanging eaves of traditional Korean temples, diagonally cut with swaths of metal giving the effect of reptilian scales. The slim towers measure in at 390 and 450 meters. Most impressive: the glass cladding at the top, giving the penthouse resident a stunning 360-view of the city, including the adjacent Han River.
Unlike certain other countries, ahem, South Korea can enjoy flexing its architectural muscles without any nagging obligations to austerity measures. All these mega-themed twin towers (a third, Bjarke Ingels’s # Tower, officially makes it a trend) are probably going to be an impressive sight when they’re all done, but I question the sheer cartoon whackiness of these proposals. Say them out loud, all at once: a cloud, dragons, and a hashtag. Seriously. Will this go down as a moment in history preoccupied with super-talls and high-concept architecture? Or will our kids look at the extravagance of these Disney-esque, glitzy showpieces and simply ask “What were you thinking?”
— Janelle Zara