MAD Envisions More ‘Natural’ Chinese Cities in the Future

Courtesy of MAD Architects

Ma Yansong of MAD recently presented a 600,000 square meter proposal for the city of Nanjing titled, “Shanshui Experiment Complex,” at the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture in Shenzhen, China. The concept takes into account the culture, nature and history of while reconsidering the methodology in which Chinese cities are built.

Courtesy of MAD Architects

MAD created a vegetated, public space that spans the ground level of the urban site, weaving in and out of mid- to high-rise buildings. “Nature” and “man-made” landscapes merge together clouding the distinction between the two. “The [project],” explains Ma Yansong, “rethinks how we define the boundary between nature and the built urban environment. Is it possible,” he asks, “to combine high-density city living with the atmosphere of nature?”

Courtesy of MAD Architects

Yasong’s vision of a natural urban environment calls upon traditional Chinese values, veering away from a purely functionalist approach to city-making. Thus, the rigidness of the “box” is replaced with flowing lines that rhythmically rise to create a series of smooth spaces and volumes resulting in a more natural (looking) skyline.

Our ancients perceived this “artistic mood” to be inherent in nature, he says. Other projects such as Chaoyang Park and Harbin Cultural Center exemplify this conviction of growing (as opposed to building) holistic cities.

Courtesy of MAD Architects

Watch ArchDaily’s interview of Ma Yansong earlier this year.

Learn more on the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture in Shenzhen.

Cite: Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz. "MAD Envisions More ‘Natural’ Chinese Cities in the Future" 28 Dec 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Halley Qian

    what about traffic?

    • Me

      Walking, cycling and metro…

  • tony

    why is it that curved lines=natural?!?

  • danielA

    es una alegoria al paisaje de guilin, yangshuo!!!!

  • Constantin Eugen Cozma

    Beautifull. They remind me of the mountains from the city of Zhangjiajie in China, which were an inspiration for the landscape of Avatar movie. I think that very tall buildings should resemble natural landscapes so that they could better relate to the human scale.

  • sui

    This is no different than the thousands of other super block projects in China, except this one has a different shape. Yeah ok, so the forms are pretty, but take away the surface and you have a situation that does not really connect people to nature.