Controversy over The Cloud forces MVRDV to Apologize

© Luxigon

Dutch firm MVRDV has received harsh criticism since they revealed the proposal for two luxury residential towers in South , named after its inspiration, The Cloud. The two towers are connected by a “pixilated cloud of additional program.” Critics are outraged, stating the design resembles the collapsing twin towers of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

spokesman Jan Kinkker stated, “We’ve had quite a lot of calls from angry Americans saying it’s a disgrace. 9/11 was not the inspiration behind the design, the inspiration was a real cloud.” He added, “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt.”

Project developer Dream Corporation selected The Cloud design proposal over a number of other options and will have the final say on whether or not they will consider another alternative.

Reference: BD

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Controversy over The Cloud forces MVRDV to Apologize" 12 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • ted

    Now I’m waiting for every American architect who’s ever built a dome which even faintly resembles the explosions in Hiroshima or Nagasaki to apologize.

    Oh wait, I forgot.

    Americans never apologize for their evil and their callousness, but the rest of the world is expected to kiss their feet.

    • SALT

      easy TED calm down buddy. Lets not get all worked up. Its going to be alright.

      • giles

        yeah man, caps lock means it has to be true! FACT.

    • louis

      Ted it sounds like you have some issues, first of all American politicians are constantly apologizing to the rest of the world for the “evil” we do when in reality Americans are doing more good than most of the world combined, FACT. Second, why are you taking the complaints of a few Americans as the American people as a whole, thats sounds a little ignorant to me. Last, there is a pretty obvious similarity to the world trade towers it would be odd if there weren’t any complaints.

      • ted

        don’t try and peddle that republican nonsense about current american politicians “apologizing” to the world. we know who you’re talking about.

        the president wasn’t apologizing to the world for america. he was apologizing for bush and his war lies and torture. in no universe does george w. bush represent the architecture community, so yeah, we all apologize to the world for unleashing such an unholy warmonger on them. because we’re decent people.

        as to your second point, it depends. when conservatives are in power, they kill a half million people and call it freedom, but the rest of the world knows better. when liberals are in power, yeah, america can be a powerful instrument for good. but it depends entirely on who’s in charge.

    • Yankee Lover

      Imagine what the world would be like if Hitler won the war. What if the Soviet Union prevailed during the cold war? Dare I even mention Al Qaeda?

      Ted, you need to get your head out of your arse. And Arch Daily better not censore this comment.

      • Tim

        FDR defeated Hitler. He was a Progressive liberal Democrat.

        Carter defeated the USSR and then Reagan took credit for it. Carter was a Christian liberal Democrat.

        Obama killed Bin Laden in 2 years and decimated Al Qaeda, killing or capturing 25 of the top 30 of their leaders. Meanwhile Bush and Cheney watched in bitter envy of Obama’s effectiveness. And just for good measure, Obama won in Libya the smart way, and it only took 6 months and not a single America soldier died.

        So I agree. As I said, America can do great things, if/when liberals are in charge. Otherwise, not so much…

        Meanwhile the dictators in Haiti in the 1980′s disappeared artists, journalists, activists, etc simply because they knew Ronald Reagan would let them, and they said so, to Reagan’s eternal shame.


      Dear Friends:
      I found the entire episode about the CLOUD, and the comments irrelevant and inane. We seem unable to focus on real issues or to discuss what constitutes forward evolution in architecture and urbanism? The issue is whether the CLOUD is a prototype of any value? Does it speak of a new aesthetic or does it address any social problem or urban issue? Does it take away from its context more than it adds?
      We architects have to come together and work on a common ground to make some meaningful contributions to our societies and to each other.
      I personally found the CLOUD a rather expensive stunt and an attempt to by spectacular rather than addressing the urban fabric and social context in which it is built. Unfortunately, instead of being an interesting and unique piece of architecture these things themselves are getting boring.
      Christopher Benninger
      Pune India

      • llort

        get off your high-horse Christopher Benninger.
        Look at the subject title for this post.

      • llort

        having said that, you are clearly right.

    • louis

      i’m sure i would dissagree with almost everthing you would say about anything but this not the place for me to teach you about the world and politics. the bottom line is that people have the right to complain about a building that reminds them of a horrific event. that doesnt mean that mvrdv should change their design or even care what those people think. but i believe they handled it well with an brief apology and explanation of their design.

    • Peter

      Ted, you’re an idiot

      • Conrad

        Shut up. If you won’t even try to counter-argue just shut up.

  • Markus

    As an American I would not care it the design were to have been inspired by WTC. I also do not believe that simple resemblance warrants an apology.
    I do though find it quite odd that MVRDV did not at least notice its likeness during design.

    • Eric

      As no one has responded to Ted…

      Japan started the war against the US, and all the non-Japanese peoples of Eastern Asia. Japan enslaved, raped and killed thousands of women and children, yet no one ever slams the Japanese for doing so (ask China about Nanking). It is always about America dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an attempt (ironic though it may be) to stop the loss of life and end the war. Was the loss of so many innocent people avoidable? Who knows? Is it tragic? Yes. Should Japan have NOT attacked America in the first place? Yep.

      • louis

        ha, Eric you’re a better person than me for even trying to explain to Ted reality, but i’m pretty sure it wont help as he will only remember what he wants to anyway.

  • Graham Ryan

    You know, as someone who was in NYC on 9/11, I didn’t even draw the parallel.

  • fmH

    “angry americans” are offended by dutch design in south korea…
    does anyone else finds this very disturbing ??
    even if this was inspired by 9/11 (hard to believe – strange thing to draw your inspiration from] somehow i cannot see the offense there..
    very elegant design, MVRDV has nothing to apologize for…
    when we bend to “critique” of few misinformed and ignorant people, where will it end??

  • Chiaro Scuro

    As a New Yorker and a designer, I am not offended by the parallels between the WTC and this design. I am offended by yet another crappy piece of paper Architecture by MVRDV. The forthright built works by this work are much better, without any kitsch.

    • Chris

      The new stuff does seem to be lacking the richness of their earlier work… The “alphabet” facade really bugged me a little while back, this is not a favorite of mine either. UN Studio is doing the same thing for me these days..

      And I remember being frozen in front of the tv during 9/11, yet I didn’t notice this design resembling that fateful day until people started posting comments on here. Looks like more of the pixellation stuffis which is (IMO regrettably) the flavor of the month.

  • DT

    What? Apologies?? Surely there is no need to apologize for it.

  • Cris

    Apologizing for this was the biggest mistake ever. How can you apologize to some frustrated americans? Let’s not put black in our design from now one cose someone lost a person in the black ages…

  • archi

    I wonder how many of these “offended Americans” are also the first to be “offended” by political correctness…

  • HD

    I think it was a smart (but unwarranted) apology/disclaimer on MVRDV’s part. They’re a fun-loving bunch (I suspect) who do great work and investigations (which is what architecture needs) No sense trying to defend with arrogance; diffuse it quickly and move on. No architect needs that kind of negative PR. Imaging how many people Galileo offended on his journey to push the envelope of Astrology. Everybody’s so touchy(!) I saw the similarity right away, but found it a coincidence overall. Plus it’s not here in the states, so it’s less likely to get egged when it’s complete.

  • Michael

    From the perspective of an American, I certainly feel frustrated with the moral outcry from many individuals who feel it necessary to demonize the people at MVRDV for something they certainly did not intend. That being said, the firm is surely filled with some smart, insightful people. I find it hard to believe that no one saw any resemblance if international media sources were quick to point out the similarities. Its equally as embarrassing to be in a profession where brilliant people claim complete denial for how people might interpret the symbolism of the architecture they create, as it is for people to completely detach a creative conclusion from its process (especially one that MVRDV clearly illustrated how they arrived at)

    • julius

      i think their apology is an appropriately banal response to the banal criticism.

    • Ronen Bekerman

      Not every thing is black and white and for some associates directly with the twins at 9/11 does not for others… simple as that!

      In any case – most of the media covering this design was probably in the first group so this is how it goes… I actually see a great design inspired by the “Skyscraper in the clouds” concept. Very bold of them to do this one without any connection to 9/11

      It is true that after the 9/11 connection was mentioned, the images of the blasts right after the airplane crush look very similar to one of the renders… but being offended and blasting MVRDV as terrorist lovers is way to extreme, no?

  • Aaron

    Being american, and a studying Architect, I can say that 9/11 is the last thing I saw in this building. It’s people like this that ruin great architecture. The building is a fantastic proposal and a unique design.

    • Marc

      I would have to agree 100%. I see nothing that points to 9/11

    • Peter

      As an architect, my advice to you is to choose a different profession. If you can’t see 911 imagery in this then you truly lack imagination. It was the first thing I saw.

      • Conrad

        Again, if you can’t stand other people’s opinions, just shut up.

      • Jake

        I think MVRDV did a good job by apologizing since 9/11 is still in recent memory and a very tragic thing to be compared to. The buildings do RESEMBLE 9/11 but it’s wrong to think that they are INSPIRED by 9/11. I think it’s actually insulting for people to think that architects would draw inspiration from such tragedy and then express it in such a literal way. That’s not how architecture works. We don’t wake up in the morning and look in the “Doom and Gloom” section of the paper for inspiration and then think of the most easily recognizable way to represent them in architectural form. For the most part, architects are looking for ways to help heal the world not polarize it. So please stop all the American-bashing and the mean spirited ranting because I’m sure MVRDV wouldn’t have wanted all this and are hoping that this blows over quickly.

  • Hannah

    Poor MVRDV. I love their innocent response ‘the inspiration was a real cloud’ as if they are a child holding up a painting. I’m glad they apologised because it shows they aren’t arrogant about their design like others would be, I hope they go ahead with the build.

  • DGL

    Dear America, not everything is about you.

    Much love, the rest of the world.

  • jeff

    Being from NYC, I see the comparison but only because I read the title, otherwise it would have been the furthest thing from my mind. I would also like to add that I don’t see one “angry American” comment disgracing these buildings..the large majority of us are not “evil”. However, it is hard not to compare to the twin towers because it is rare to see two rectangular buildings in a dense urban fabric. ;)

  • Chris

    And the Twin Towers of light tribute (floodlights shining into the sky) is inspired by the Nazis… Strange that there was no controversy about that!

  • Joan

    Dear american ignorant, not everything is about you. MVRDV was an office of innovative concepts a long time ago, now they just copy themselves or other people concepts.This project is just result of boring structuralism, this resource it’s a way over done. Lately I looks like their only resource.

    • jeb

      ‘ignorant’ is an adjective, not a noun.
      you ignorant person

  • F.M.B

    Haha, thats hilarious! I come from Germany, we always apologize for everything constantly, if its touching our villainous history. Its so nice to see someone else put his foot in one’s mouth.

  • Singye

    Ya it Does look like the WTC twin tower wrapped over the huge fumes of smoke.. but this dont mean the MVRDV mocking at the American Lost…

  • OMG!

    I can´t believe those americans!

  • mvb

    I think architects should be free to get inspiration from anything, that is what make architecture creative an inventive. I do not care whether they were thinking in a cloud or not, they do not have to apologize, they are not terrorists. We should analyze the whole book, not only by the cover.

  • Dave S.

    I lived in NYC during 9/11, and I didn’t see any resemblance in this design to the WTC until after it was mentioned in the commentary. The sense of outrage by some is surely ridiculous and hypocritical. However, categorically dismissing all Americans for the response of a few is equally boorish. Personally, I find the design gimmicky…the directness of the cloud translation is a bit postmodern for my taste.