Since the earliest images of cities with dirigibles and skybridges captured the hearts and minds of the public, the skyscraper has been seen as the promising harbinger of vertical expansion, of civilization mounting ever higher and unlocking endless layers of possibility along the way. The notion of multi-story, multi-purpose cities within cities tickled the sensibilities of European modernists like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and a host of his design disciples, who sought to both articulate and harmonize such urban multiplicity behind towering, thin-skinned facades. But we’ve come a long way since the Seagram Building. Architectural expression has become, shall we say, a lot less subtle. Dutch firm MVRDV‘s recent proposal for Peruri 88, a new tower in Jakarta, Indonesia, is a testament to the discipline’s need to translate function and form into spectacle and for architecture to wear our desires on its sleeve.
MVRDV’s scheme illustrates a 400-meter-tall, mix-use project designed to contain retail space, offices, housing, a luxury hotel, four levels of parking, a wedding house, a mosque, IMAX theatres, and an outdoor amphitheatre, according to Bustler. The design appears to cobble together a melange of building typologies, clustering them and stacking them precariously on top of each other in an ambitious balancing act.
The concept brings to mind MVRDV’s breakthrough early work, such as their design for the Dutch Pavilion for Expo 2000. The temporary structure presented another whirlwind of different spaces — intended to share Holland’s varied ecological offerings — piled on top of each other and left seemingly unresolved like an unfinished game of Rubik’s Cube. Though this same idea can be read clearly in the Peruri 88 scheme, there are marked differences, namely that the Jakarta structure would be permanent (more or less), and the environmental initiative that drove the design of the Dutch Pavilion seems only to hitch a ride in this new project, taking the form of green terraces that feel almost like those last-minute, curly-leaf parsley garnishes that never get eaten. The design does not hide its main imperative, which seems to be to inject Jakarta with a heavy dosage of capitalist desire. The result is the architectural likeness of an overzealous Black Friday shopping cart, pushing the limits of how much one could ever want.
[All images via Bustler, courtesy MVRDV]
- Kelly Chan