In Progress: Conrad Hotel by MAD

Architects: MAD
Location: ,
Structural Engineers: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD)
Mechanical Engineers: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD)
Façade/cladding consultants: King General Engineering, SuP Ingenieure GmbH
Interior Designers: Lim.Teo + Wilkes Design Works Pte Ltd
Landscape Designer: Earthasia Design Group
Site Area: 7,779 sqm
Constructed Area: 56,994 sqm
Building height: 106 meters
Images: MAD

The CBD of Beijing was built according to the west standard set up around the industrial revolution of the early 20th century, when high-rise building was the symbol of the capitalism. But far from the ambition of more than one hundred year ago, when people tried to challenge themselves with modern technology and future dreams, the contemporary CBD buildings are the concrete machines, copy of the copy in mass production. They are meaningless, crowded and soulless.

Situated among those buildings, Conrad hotel is the outcome of the slow-design. The façade element, which looks like the nervous tissue, is planted into a simple cubic. It is the toxin that destroys and transforms the surface into an organic envelop. The whole building is turned into a melting box, a starting point for the urban grid to change from the solid efficiency into the liquid idea. The standard product of the production line is therefore replaced by the digital craft of difference.

During the architecture evolution, people of different historical time tried to create organic buildings by their hand-made crafts. Their works are the representation of the worship of nature, the courage to break the heaviness of building and the passion of life. It is the spirit of sublime that became the culture icon of the era and the city. Conrad hotel is the design that appreciates the slowness in the fast urban development in China. The product of architecture is like the growing process of urban dwellers in the city, it is the evolution of energy and identity. The new urban efficiency is the difference precisely controlled and produced by the high-tech modern industry, and it creates the new possibility for people living in the city to discover their own new experience.

Cite: Saieh, Nico. "In Progress: Conrad Hotel by MAD" 01 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>

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  • Carlos

    I am wondering if ARCHITECTS like this will ever conceive space, this is just an example of seductive consumerist and hollow architecture.
    It seems tectonics are more marketarable than light, space and materiality. No sections, no plans no nothing!! just an illustration of a possible facade, because it is far away of becoming and architectural drawing.

    • dashen

      U r right. but that’s exactly what a client want: cell structure + attractive facade = low cost + necessary advertisement. light, space and materiality as a adorable architectural language are really limited in terms of commercial buildings, especially when the scale is big.

  • RT

    It’s like a “crown tooth”, after you peel off the “nervous tissue” or whatever they call the fancy facade, it’s just another regular bldg made in china.
    This is quite the opposite of architectonic which works with the interior space and evolves into the exterior.

  • warren

    a visually appealing skin, but completely empty! no wonder we only see a couple of renders… the building is just like this presentation itself…

  • darly

    the exterior skin pattern creeps me out. It is devoid of not only conceptual integrity but also visual appeal. I would refuse to lay my eyes on that building ever. Simply irritating.

  • Michael

    Yeah! ‘Empty’ seems to be the word.

  • Ralf

    If the the design of this building just follow a trend (skin pattern) is a nonsense.

  • Yikes

    oh they totally screwed up this design, i designed the previous version of this facade which has a more Gaudi-like feel instead of this flat straight extrusion pattern. major disappointment!

  • Quy Long

    nothing but an incomprehensible facade. WHY is that facade?

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  • Case

    @Carlos – I agree that it’s pretty much just a shell, but I do like the facade itself (apart from the actual architecture). I like how it looks like a sketch that starts out very structured and linear but ends up “melting” into more organic patterns… almost like brain cells under the microscope.

  • ny_arch

    how this skin works contextually? is it just a show-off/play-with-architecture?????

  • Rupesh Jamkhindikar

    I agree with the context point here…i thought the satellite image is to show some context…its much an attempt to bring back gaudi….probably just a fashion with these new possibilites……

  • Lasse

    Cell structures and so what?

  • Hellyess

    tired of this crap.
    I wonder what/who will determine the end of this and the beginning of something that’s actually useful and beautiful…

  • Mike

    Arch Daily should just give up. Architects should just give up. It really doesn’t matter what gets put on here, all that results is a string of insults employing “emptiness, shallow, horrible design, tired, nothing new, ho-hum, looks cool but sucks, doesn’t look cool and sucks”. Is there anything we haven’t seen in architecture yet? Seriously, everyone should get off their ass and make something.

    Why is it that we can’t accept ANYTHING that has ANY sort of sensibility beyond casual modernism? Why is something that is austere immediately thrown into the canon of genius? Is it because it’s difficult? Is it because you would have a hard time conceiving it yourself? Like it or not, this is not crap. There is thought here, there is artistry here, and there is finesse here, it just may not be what you care about. That does not mean that there isn’t value. MAD is obviously thinking about something. There is so much difficulty in trying to rectify a balance between our discipline, physical constraints, client, and service to users, why can’t we support one another as a community of different likes/dislikes trying to solve similar problems instead of berating that which we find incongruent with our own taste?

    This project offers something. Be objective. Be critical but be productive.

  • Sonic

    love it!

  • hZ!

    It really is a beautiful façade, though I do wish the X axis had been devoured/transfigured as well. A relentless horizontality grips this building.
    I hope this is the beginning of great things to come. May organics invade many more new buildings in such a way, and to a greater degree.

  • shetu

    Carlos is rite.

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  • Hamid Moghadam