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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.

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 (opens in new tab) 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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Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.