1.) “Great architects express their philosophy through the building, the visitor should receive the message from the original designer meant.”

MAD architects, Beijing, founded by Ma Yansong 12 years ago,  is the one of the most daring studios that you will see today.
Their futuristic and organic architecture is intentionally based on the spirit of nature. Ma Yansong is a central figure in the worldwide discourse on the future of architecture. – a rising Star at 35.
He was titled one of the “10 Most Creative People in Architecture” by the Fast Company in 2009, and received the prominent “International Fellowship” from Royal Institute of British Architects in 2011.
Being the humble man that he is, Ma Yansong was also chosen as the “Young Global Leader (YGL)” by the World Economic Forum in 2014. Apart from many more exhibitions and laurels that have been added to MAD architects table, their architecture models have been attained by the celebrated M+ Museum (Hong Kong) as part of their permanent collections.

Shanshui city

Courtesy of MAD

2.) ‘When people look at the proposal they always say that its beautiful. Even the government. Nobody will say no to trees. But nobody thinks it’s going to happen, because nobody thinks anybody will make that decision. That’s exactly why we should propose it.”

MAD Architects core design philosophy is – Shanshui City – ‘a vision for the city of the future based on the spiritual and emotional needs of residents – MAD endeavors to create a balance between humanity, the city, and the environment.’
By 2050, Ma Yansong has a plan for Beijing.
It involves turning Tiananmen Square to a forest – “Planting that many trees, its not difficult for China. What takes time is how people change their minds. Its big if that space changes into something green and human.”

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Hufton+Crow

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Hufton+Crow

3.) “I wanted to do something irregular, not just a box. In fact locals call it the ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Towers!”

The Absolute Towers, winner of several awards and the result of a design competition,  are two buildings which changed the face of architecture in Mississauga, a town in Toronto.
Infamous for its contemporary curves, it is remembered as MAD architects first big high-rise residences – their biggest breakthrough.
The continual all-around balconies cantilevered on the individual varied floor plans, account for the supple curves that the structure showcases. Each floor plan is rotated by 0.5 degrees and placed in the asymmetrical stack. Even visually, its complex to fathom what the process of planning and structure must have been like, for then 30-year old Ma Yansong.  The Absolute Towers that are fondly compared to Issey Miyakes’ body draping fashion by architectural critics, are also Ma Yansongs’ favourite design.

People ask me, says the modest Ma Yansong, “Why did you design such a sexy building?”
And I say, “No I didn’t try to make it sexy, I wanted to do something irregular, just not a box. My wish was to make a building against the regular modern towers, I thought I should do something not so powerful. More natural and irregular. In China they would refer to this building as a beautiful vase. People link this building to something more artistic or human.”

Absolute Towers, Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Patrick Shu

Absolute Towers, Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Patrick Shu

4.) “Zaha Hadid was my teacher, She’s the first person who gave me a lot of contemporary art books, and very good advice.”

Ma Yansong’s latest signature cultural project is the Harbin Opera House, China.
The undulating curves that enclose the three petal plan are the archetype of white aluminium panels that embody two concert halls and a public plaza. The meandering curves within the building with its monumental spaces are meant to seamlessly blend in with the existing environment, and connect to the imagination of people.  Its vast voids and steps are meant to add to the scale and enormity of the performance venue.
We can’t help but notice the sensual design and immense use of material, and say that Zaha Hadid as a mentor and guide definitely did well for MAD architects.

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Adam Mørk

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Adam Mørk

5.) “The pity of the architecture industry is that it’s full of old people, and when they are given the chance to do that ‘significant something’, they don’t remember what they wanted to do while they were young.”

Chicago finally approves the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art along the Chicago Lakefront. Star Wars fans can now live in peace.
The suave conical frustum that gradually rises from the ground is all set for construction this year.  Ma Yansong reduced the footprint by 40 percent in the revised design, also providing additional windows, open spaces, 4.5 acres of open ground, a rooftop restaurant with a 360 degree view of the stunning Lake Michigan and the city of skyscrapers.
The cut outs in the anterior and interior of the structure, house galleries and screening rooms for revelling in the visual imagery in store for the public.

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Hufton+Crow

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Hufton+Crow

6.) “Frank Gehry used to do only commercial architecture and then one day he changed.
That is brave.”


In an honest struggle to watch the masterpiece rise out of the ground, Frank Gehry had written an open letter defending the design for the George Lucas Museum by MAD.

“The recent outpouring of negative sentiment in Chicago against MAD Architects’ proposal for George Lucas’ lakefront museum is troubling to read. Chicago is a haven for architecture and has historically supported innovative, forward-looking work. There is a natural impulse to deride a project in the early stages of design, particularly one that has a new shape or expression. This is not a new concept. In Bilbao, the newspapers had an article asking for the architect of the museum to be killed — that was me! All of these projects have gone on to be great assets to their mutual cities, and I think the same will be true of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Chicago. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles was called broken crockery when I first went public with it, and that was the nicest thing that got said. But this is the power of regenerative architecture.” says Gehry in a letter published by the Chicago Tribune.

I genuinely hope that the people of Chicago take time to review the George Lucas Museum,” added Gehry. “Please do not dismiss it because it doesn’t look like something you’ve never seen before.”

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Adam Mørk

Harbin Opera House ,Courtesy of MAD, Photography by: Adam Mørk

7.) “Follow the first 5 seconds instinct. Make a decision fast.”

The Pingtan Art Museum, China, was surely a brave and brilliant decision. The three crystal white bunds that softly escalate above the water, remind us of floating seashells in the vastness of a lake. Whats unique is, that the building which will finish construction this year, constitutes concrete blended with local sand shells.
Its an effort by MAD Architects to interconnect the public and private, the primitive and present, and create an opportunity for everyone to appreciate their surroundings and nature.

Courtesy of MAD

Courtesy of MAD

8.) If we say we want to be close to nature, why cant we let the temperature be one degree more or less in the room?

MAD Architects was also the esteemed firm to win their first European Project after 4 years of negotiations.
The re-modelling of 145 residences in Rome, were the outcome of winning a competition in 2010, – a courtyard edifice attached to a premature 20th century chapel. After years of decision-making with the local planning authorities,  MAD decided to just eliminate its facade and sliver it back to the structural framework such that the translucent walls and open-plan interiors can be added on, instead of eradicating the entire building. Yet at the same time they wish to maintain the historical heritage of Rome and its pristine settings, along with the city’s liveliness.

He says, “Its difficult to make nature and concrete combine in modern cities and high rise, but there should be way.”

urban block in rome with green residences, Courtesy of MAD

urban block in rome with green residences, Courtesy of MAD

9.)As an architect your job is solving problems, Its an architects nature not to fear.
If it were perfect, there would be no job for you!”

Ma Yansong reminisces and wishes he’d designed Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute in California.
Why? He says that it’s one of those buildings that don’t need a center of attraction. The entire beauty of the project lies in the fact that the center is infinite. This is visible to any onlooker who can get a good glimpse of the infinite sky space. He adds that one can have a dialogue with nature there and feel like you’ve been absorbed into a black hole. Its like reading a good book.

Ma Yansong and Toyo Ito in conversation

Ma Yansong and Toyo Ito in conversation

On can delve into their projects in the website http://www.i-mad.com
Watch MAD win hearts at the Venice Biennale 2014 :

Written by: Ekshikaa

 

 

 

 

 

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