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Did Squid Game steal its look from a Spanish housing estate?

Squid Game architecture
(Image credit: Sebastian Weiss / Netflix)

If you think the images above look similar, you're not the only one. The South Korean dystopian drama Squid Game has taken Netflix by storm, and some keen viewers have noticed an uncanny similarity between its mind-bending staircases (on the right in the image above) and the sharp architecture and vibrant colours of an incredible postmodern housing estate in Spain (left).

If you've been off-grid and need to catch up, Squid Game follows indebted contestants as they take part in a contest that involves playing children's games for a chance to win billions (with fatal consequences if they fail). The sets are just as captivating as the plot, with a mesmerising aesthetic that's packed with Easter eggs (Make sure you have one of the best TVs if you've yet to watch it).

Squid Game

A shot of the staircases in Squid Game (Image credit: Netflix)

Central to the series is the mind-bending staircases that contestants must climb. We've already noted that Director Hwang Dong-hyuk has said that the stairs were inspired by the Dutch artist M.C. Escher's lithograph print Relativity. But while Escher's imaginary labyrinths certainly come to mind when you watch Squid Game, his work was in black and white. Now some fans of the series think they've found the inspiration for the vibrant hues of Squid Game's staircases.

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The source? La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall), a striking housing estate in Calpe, Alicante. Designed by the architect Ricardo Bofill in 1968 and finished in 1973, the complex reimagines North African casbahs with their interconnected communal plazas and bridges through an avant-garde postmodern gaze. It's painted red on the outside but has internal sections painted blue and violet, and it looks stunning.

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La Muralla Roja

Apartments in La Muralla Roja are available to rent on Airbnb. Click right to see more (Image credit: Airbnb)
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La Muralla Roja

Internal spaces are painted blue, pink and violet (Image credit: Airbnb)
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La Muralla Roja

Internal spaces take influence from North African casbahs (Image credit: Airbnb)

The similarity is certainly notable, but Bofill was intending a more utopian than dystopian vision. At La Muralla Roja, the staircases lead to solariums, a pool for residents and spectacular views of the Balearic sea rather than a grisly end. The best part? You can stay there. The complex has 50 apartments, from studios to three beds, and some of them are available to rent on Airbnb from $110 a night. 

We're booking our flight now. Meanwhile, if you're looking for more architectural inspiration see our guide to incredible famous buildings that can inspire creatives of all kinds.

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Joseph Foley

Joseph is a regular freelance journalist at Creative Bloq. He also works as a writer and translator, as well as a project manager at a design agency based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he spends his nights dancing tango and drinking malbec. His interests include graphic design and social media.