Interview: Ma Yansong on “Silhouette Shanshui” at the Venice Biennale

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  Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in . According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.

Should China put Design Restrictions on New Developments?

Apartments in Shenzhen. Image © Neville Mars under a CC licence

China may be at a turning point in urban design: a recent article in Australian points out that over 50 million apartments in Chinese cities (about 22.5 percent) are unoccupied. This problem springs from the ongoing Chinese construction boom, prompted by developers looking to stimulate urban economic growth as quickly as possible. However, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects believes these empty apartments are a sign that buyers find them unsuited to their needs, and that China should begin to enforce good design principles on these rapidly-constructed complexes. Read the full article here.

Guangzhou Announces Shortlists for Two Museum Projects

© Flickr CC User jo.sau

The Guangzhou Bureau of Science and IT has announced the shortlists for two major projects in Guangzhou. The two museum projects – the Guangzhou Museum and the Guangzhou Science Museum, each worth over $160 million – will be the latest in a host of high profile projects in China‘s third-largest city, a list which includes Zaha Hadid‘s Guangzhou Opera House, the 600m tall Canton Tower, IFC Guangzhou by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and the Guangzhou Circle, among others.

The Guangzhou Museum will be located to the West of Lingnan Square near the Canton Tower, while the Guangzhou Science museum will be located to the East. Practices making the two lists include Bjark Ingels Group, Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, TFP Farrells, MAD Architects and Steven Holl Architects. Read on after the break for the complete shortlists.

MAD Architects + Studio Gang Selected for Chicago’s George Lucas Museum

The rejected proposal for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in Crissy Field, San Francisco. Image © Art Zendarski

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 , who will also add a bridge to Northerly Island, an area which they have worked on turning into an ecologically diverse urban park.

ArchDaily Editors Select 20 Amazing 21st Century Museums

In honor of International Museum Day we’ve collected twenty fascinating museums well worth visiting again. In this round up you’ll find classics – such as Bernard Tschumi Architects New Acropolis Museum and Zaha Hadid Architects‘ MAXXI Museum - as well as lesser-known gems – such as Medieval Museum, the Natural History Museum of Utah by Ennead, and the Muritzeum by Wingårdhs. See all of our editors’ favorites after the break!

Ma Yansong Listed as Top 100 Most Creative in Business

, MAD Architects. Image © Edoardo Giancola

2014 seems to be the year of Ma Yansong, as the founder of MAD Architects, who was recently named a Young Global Leader, has now been listed as one of the top 100 most creative people in business by . Ranked at 53, the Beijing-based architect was the only architect featured on the list. 

MAD Breaks Ground on Complex that Redefines Beijing’s “City Landscape”

Site. Image © MAD

Construction has commenced on MAD’s Chaoyang Park Plaza within one of ’s largest public parks and central business district. A continuation of Ma Yansong’s “Shan-Shui City” concept, which aims reintroduce nature into the urban realm, the mixed-use complex reinterprets natural formations illustrated in traditional Chinese paintings as contemporary “city landscapes.” 

“Like the tall mountain cliffs and river landscapes of China, a pair of asymmetrical towers creates a dramatic skyline in front of the park,” described MAD. “Ridges and valleys define the shape of the exterior glass facade, as if the natural forces of erosion wore down the tower into a few thin lines.” 

An Interview with MAD Architects’ Ma Yansong: Constructing Icons, Identity & China’s Future Cities

, . Image © Edoardo Giancola

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.

MAD’s Ma Yansong Named 2014 Young Global Leader

© ArchDaily

Ma Yansong, founder of MAD, has been named the 2014 Young Global Leader. The award, bestowed each year by the (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 here.

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 Nanjing while reconsidering the methodology in which Chinese cities are built.

Harbin Cultural Center / MAD Architects

Courtesy of MAD Architects

Architects: MAD Architects
Location: Xiangfang Cultural Center, Zhujiang Road, Xiangfang, Haerbin, Heilongjiang, , 150090
Directors: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Area: 1800000.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Courtesy of MAD Architects

Workshop by Ma Yansong (MAD Architects) at Ajman University

, founder of MAD Architects, will be having a workshop at Ajman University of Science & Technology, from October 7 to October 10. For registration you need to contact Dr. Jihad Awad at j.awad@ajman.ac.ae.

Chaoyang Park Project / MAD Architects

© MAD Architects

As a continuation to his “Shan-Shui City” concept, which envisions a “city of mountains and water,” of MAD Architects has proposed an interpretation of ’s ancient natural philosophy in the contemporary city: the Chaoyang Park project. Situated in the world’s second largest city park and surrounded by a typical Chinese business district, the Chaoyang Park project seeks to infuse the “vigorous Shan-Shui culture” with a new urban typology that unites architecture and nature as a single entity.

AD Interviews: Advice for Young Architects

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.

Watch Bjarke Ingels, Charles Renfro, Einar Jarmund, Ma Yansong, Sam Jacob, Jim Eyre, and Andrew Maynard share their advice with the ArchDaily community!

‘Shanshui City’ Book Launch and Exhibition / Ma Yansong of MAD Architects

Courtesy of

Displayed earlier this month in a Qing Dynasty courtyard garden at Wu Hao in , Ma Yansong‘s ‘Shanshui City exhibition featured more than twenty architectural models and works of art that are scattered around the ancient courtyard. Among rocks, screen walls, bamboo groves, pools of water and beneath the sky, the scale of each piece varies and collectively they form a futuristic utopian urban landscape. The newly issued book “Shanshui City” – released simultaneously with the exhibition – is an important turning point for Ma Yansong’s ten years of architectural practice and theory. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.

China Wood Sculpture Museum / MAD Architects

© Xiazhi

Architects: MAD Architects Location: , Director In Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun Design Team: Yu Kui, Daniel Gillen, Bas van Wylick, Diego Perez, Jordan Kanter, Huang Wei, Julian Sattler, Liu Weiwei, Tang Liu, Mao Peihong, Maria Alejandra Obregon, Nickolas Urano, Gus Chan, Shin Park, Alejandro Gonzalez Area: 12,959 sqm Year: 2013 Photographs: Xiazhi, Iwan Baan

AD Interviews: Ma Yansong / MAD

While we were in Beijing, we had the opportunity to visit an architect who we have been following for quite some time: Ma Yansong, founder of MAD.

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 ’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 (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.

 Ma Yansong represents a new generation of Chinese architects who have the important task of shaping a forward-looking architecture while at the same time understanding their rapidly growing country’s past. MAD also sponsors a travel scholarship.MAD’s office is located in a hutong neighbourhood in Beijing, where Ma Yansong works with principals Dang Qun and Yosuke Hayano.

Video available at Youku for our Chinese readers.

Projects by MADat ArchDaily:

Absolute Towers / MAD Architects

© Iwan Baan

Architects: MAD Architects
Location: , Ontario,
Director In Charge: Ma Yansong, Yosuke Hayano, Dang Qun
Design Team: Shen Jun, Robert Groessinger, Florian Pucher, Yi Wenzhen, Hao Yi, Yao Mengyao, Zhao Fan, Liu Yuan, Zhao Wei, Li Kunjuan, Yu Kui, Max Lonnqvist, Eric Spencer
Client: Fernbrook / Cityzen
Year: 2012
Photographs: Iwan Baan, Tom Arban, Courtesy of MAD Architects