‘Squid Game’ isn’t just Netflix’s most successful production to date — the Korean series is currently one trend after another, from the revival of Dalgona biscuits to TikTok challenges to vintage children’s games. So far, less attention has been paid to the recurring backgrounds of the game’s inferno – and above all, the stairs. The bright colors stand in stark contrast to the confined spaces in which guards and players press their way at the end of each day’s killer game.
Author and director Hwang Dong-hyuk frequently refers to MC Escher, but architecture enthusiasts have long recognized another inspiration: Muralla Roja, located on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. If you look at the images of bright colors and the maze, crossing the stairs again and again, the similarity is undeniable – a movie set that was, however, an architectural icon long before the series. And now it can also become the latest phenomenon in Insta-Architurismo.
The massive apartment complex, which sits on the rugged slopes of Caleb’s Costa Blanca like a pink castle, was designed by Ricardo Bofill at the end of the 1960s, who has long been one of the preeminent architects nowadays. The concise geometry, along with its many terraces and courtyards, is based on North African kasbahs. The floor plan is a Greek cross, repeated in the structures, and were it not for the colors – depending on the use of pink, red, purple and blue, Muralla Roja would look brutal. The building houses 50 apartments, next to it is a restaurant on the ground floor and a rooftop pool and sauna – all reserved exclusively for the residents. Access is granted only to those who really live here, the security guard handles this around the clock, because Muralla Roja has long been a tourist attraction. The only way to get into the building is with Airbnbs and apartments offered as vacation rentals.
And that is exactly what could become a new viral trend with Squid Game. Muralla Roja is photogenic enough to post on Instagram, and that viral photo could fuel a new travel trend more than the best marketing department knew even before the travel restrictions of the pandemic. The All for the Gram agency in Dubai has specialized in Instagram destinations, and countries like Iceland and New Zealand have been successful in attracting more tourists with their social media campaigns in recent years.
It’s no surprise that Ricardo Bofill’s draft is, of all things, a model for a movie set and could become a new viral destination. His signature megalomaniac projects often look like Stanislav’s visions: whether it’s the Arcades du Lac, Les Espaces d’Abraxas, or his home and studio La Fábrica – they all have something dystopian.
In addition to Muralla Roja, two other Bofill buildings can be seen in Calp: the dark green, asymmetrical Xanadu, which is also an apartment complex, and the Manzanera Social Club, which has been vacant for more than 30 years, based on the natural stone of the cliffs and standing by the water. Wind and weather have left their mark, but the hype around the architecture may soon lead to a renovation of the building. Then the Instagram architurismo might have a lasting effect after all – beyond the post.
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