The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for a end to the “weird buildings” being built in China, and particularly in the nation’s capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.
With China’s construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today’s architecture scene – and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios – the Chinese leader’s comments have the potential to affect the landscape of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.
MAD Architects‘ “Silhouette Shanshui” – which lies somewhere between an installation and a model – is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm’s Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.
After the controversy surrounding their rejection by San Francisco and subsequent relocation to Chicago, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has today announced a team of MAD Architects and Studio Gang as the designers of their new building in Chicago‘s museum district near Northerly Island.
The building itself will be designed by MAD Architects, chosen “because of its innovative approach to design and the firm’s philosophy of connecting urban spaces to natural landscapes.” In this case, that landscape will be designed by Studio Gang, who will also add a bridge to Northerly Island, an area which they have worked on turning into an ecologically diverse urban park.
I look into myself, trying to express myself. I think sometimes maybe you have an idea from a dream. It sounds ridiculous but you draw something out of your dream. Where does this dream come from? It must somehow relate to some situation. So what I’m interested in is to keep discovering what is really inside of me. I’m not a genius that from the first moment I already know what I want. - Ma Yansong -
Beixinqiao district, in Beijing, is changing fast: the ancient urban tissue is being demolished as new high-rises are growing.Located in this environment, Ma Yansong’s office sits within an old and anonymous construction. In contrast to its exterior, the inside is characterized by wood, white walls and plants that transform the place into a sophisticated environment.International young architects are busy modeling new organic-shaped buildings on the other side of the world; meanwhile a golden fish swims in the eternal loop of the “fish tank” in the centre of the room.
In the following interview, Ma Yansong explains contemporary cities as environments that are out-of-scale with nature. He believes a new approach must be used, one that breaks the monotonous “chessboard” of contemporary Urban China and re-establishes the balance between human beings and the natural world.
Ma Yansong, founder of MAD, has been named the 2014 Young Global Leader. The award, bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum (WEF), aims to “recognize the most distinguished leaders under the age of 40, nominated from around the world.” Winning the title from a collection of 214 young leaders from 66 countries, Yansong is the first Chinese architect to be awarded this honour. According to the WEF, Yansong “commits himself to exploring the future of architecture by combining the city density, function, and the spirit of Shanshui, to reconnect the emotional link between human and nature.” Watch our interview with Ma Yansong here.
Ma Yansong of MAD recently presented a 600,000 square meter urban design 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 Nanjing while reconsidering the methodology in which Chinese cities are built.
Since ArchDaily started, we have interviewed close to two hundred architects to understand the diversity of our profession, and to give you insights from the most successful practices in the world.
Here is a round up with excerpts from some of these interviews, focusing on advice for the young architects.
Ma Yansong graduated from the Beijing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture, and went to Yale thanks to the AIA Scholarship for Advanced Architecture Research, where he received his masters degree in Architecture in 2001. Afterwards, Ma Yansong worked at Zaha Hadid’s office in London, and started MAD in 2004.
His strong research background is mixed with a deeper understanding and interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture, inspired by urban typologies such as the hutong and the siheyua. This can be seen in projects such as the Hutong Bubble, the Wooden Sculpture Museum (under construction) and the recently opened Ordos Art & City Museum. MAD’s vision for Beijing 2050 is a bold proposal that opens up debate, challenging what the future of the CBD (Central Business District, an area populated by tall generic buildings) could be.
Another interesting project is his Absolute Towers in Canada (2006-2012). Not only did the project make Ma Yansong the first Chinese architect to build abroad, it also put his practice on the map.
Video available at Youku for our Chinese readers.
Projects by MADat ArchDaily:
Beijing-born architect Ma Yansong has become an important, emerging voice to a new generation of architects. Shortly after establishing MAD architects in 2004, his practice earned worldwide attention (2006) by winning an international competition to design a residential tower near Toronto, expected to be completed in the summer of 2012. In this interview with Studio Banana TV, Yansong discusses a few of his latest works, including MAD’s first museum completed last year in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. Continue reading for more information.