Squid Game has taken the world by storm as the central themes of the hit Netflix show transcend cultures and languages. From the tricky challenges to character depth, it’s hard not to get sucked into the show. But in all honesty, it was the aesthetic staircases that really caught our attention in the first episode.
The candy-like architecture is being replicated as part of Netflix’s marketing campaign at places like malls and train stations, but did you know that the set was actually inspired by an actual apartment complex? Located in Manzanera, Calpe, Spain, the 50-year-old La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) is so similar that Archdaily couldn’t help but point out that the show was almost surely inspired by the labyrinth design of the postmodern apartment complex.
The geometric building was designed by famous architect Ricardo Bofill in 1968 and completed in 1973. Designed to house 50 apartments (ranging from studios to three-bedroom units), La Muralla Roja couldn’t avoid becoming a tourist attraction and some apartments in the complex are rented out on Airbnb.
Thankfully, you can stay in peace at La Muralla Roja without the fear someone will kill you in your sleep. The maze-like staircases lead to comfortable apartments and patios with lovely views overlooking the cliffs along the Balearic Sea. There’s a swimming pool, roof terrace, and community lounge for residents and guests alike.
And believe it or not, there’s actually an order to the chaos. The aesthetic wall colors and shapes indicate where you are in the complicated labyrinth. Bofill used the greek cross as the base layout of the complex, which is a reinterpretation of the casbahs of North African and Mediterranean communities. In La Muralla Roja, all the apartments are connected to each other through the shared courtyard or plaza. The courtyards are also designed to allow each apartment to have its share of natural light.
Meanwhile, the colors are also organized. Pink walls indicate subsidiary courtyards while blue indicates central courtyards. Almost everything else is painted violet, but it all comes together in a decidedly unique and aesthetic combination.
As Squid Game was inspired by La Muralla Roja, so too was La Muralla Roja inspired by the art of Dutch artist Maurits Cornelius Escher, whose work was, in turn, an homage to architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who pioneered subterranean staircases and impossible geometry in art. Given La Muralla Roja’s relaxing and creative vibes, we can safely assume that it was Piranesi who inspired the meaning, if not the exact visuals, of Squid Game’s staircase. Piranesi’s magnum opus was a series of 16 etchings called Carceri, which means “prisons” to represent an impossible situation. Not unlike the plot of Squid Game.
Thankfully, La Muralla Roja is not a prison, and tourists in Spain can book a charming Airbnb at this apartment complex without fear they’ll be led to their deaths at the end of the staircase.
*This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.
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