The skylines of modern China are punctuated by architecture that amazes, inspires, and awes. Many of these towering structures are the work of the Beijing-based experimental practice MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong.
People often ask what 'MAD' stands for; sometimes, I explain it stands for MA Design, but I like MAD (adjective) Architects better. It sounds like a group of architects with an attitude towards design and practice. I think it is important to practice architecture with an attitude, to be critical and sensitive to the issues and challenges in our world.
MAD Works is illustrated with 300 photographs, architectural drawings, and renderings that offer a thorough exploration of MAD’s international portfolio of completed works, unbuilt projects, and future ideas. The book also features a significant range of buildings including museums, theaters, and residences, as well as commissioned designs for urban planning, urban complexes, and old neighborhood renovations. In 2014, MAD was selected as the principal design architect for the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA), becoming the first China-based architecture firm to design an overseas cultural institution.
Organized thematically, this comprehensive architectural monograph explores the underlying concepts of MAD’s architectural works. MAD Works is divided into five chapters based on a series of creative concepts that reveal Ma’s attitude toward architecture. Named after his five art pieces—Fish Tank, Ink Ice, Feelings are Facts, Shanshui City, and Beijing 2050—the chapters operate as points of departure and inspiration for his subsequent architectural works. These five concepts categorize and organize the 28 featured works.
Including a foreword by Sir Peter Cook, founder of Archigram, and an interview by Aric Chen, curator of art and design for M+, the new museum for visual culture in Hong Kong, MAD Works is a visually stunning and in-depth monograph that catalogues the awe-inspiring works of one of the most dynamic contemporary architecture firms to emerge in the 21st Century.
Foreward by Sir Peter Cook (Extract)
This architect is the bringer of the new fluency: clearly they emerge out of a very real sense of structure, weight, substance and, above all, form but they seem to have no fear of the hiccups that European or American architecture often gets strangled by – which then have to be resolved, or ‘played’ by niceties of articulation or grammar. At this point it remains for one to pick out from his architecture some intriguing characteristics. Of materiality: that one senses the inherited palette of glazed openings and universal white surfaces may be starting to bore him? That he is still happier with some degree of axial formality that in the West, we associate with pomp, but that he has the spirit to scramble all of it at any minute and make an apparently random plan arrangement.
The old avant-garde figures often went out so far that in their mature work they either lost their public or had seduced them so far that they forgot there had ever been any other type of proposition or aesthetics. It is interesting that Ma Yansong is a frequent lecture visitor to the West, but what does he need from us? The incentive, with this work is reversed, for he has surely bewitched us.
Title"MAD Works: MAD Architects" Introduced by Sir Peter Cook