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.
The Chinese term "shan shui" literally translates to mountains and water, but traditionally, it refers to a style of painting that depicts natural but imagined landscapes. These paintings reflect what the artist sees in their mind, not with their eyes, an idea Yansong believes translates to the development of cities. Just as these paintings reflect an inner dialogue, developing cities should be more cognizant of how the built environment makes its inhabitants feel. "Silhouette Shanshui" examines this concept.
Yansong and his firm is continuously trying to improve the human experience by examining our relationship with nature in the city. Since this relationship is absolutely essential to the architectural practice, Yansong believes the project is well-suited to the Venice Biennale's theme of "Fundamentals." In the interview, Yansong elaborates on this belief as well as the project itself. If you want to learn more about Ma Yansong and MAD Architects, check out our earlier interview below.