Wondering about the future is a distinguishing feature of human beings, making us different from all other animal species. Animals can plan short-term actions such as seeking food or building a nest, but humans are the only beings capable of imagining, planning and preparing for the long-term future. Visions of the future and possible answers to the question of what the new future of architecture might be like inspire the works designed and built over the past year by MAD Architects and the studio’s founder Ma Yansong. The future, and particularly that of the Chinese capital, is also the theme of a recent exhibition entitled Blueprint Beijing, the final event in the first Beijing Biennale, open until 12 March 2023, curated by architect Ma Yansong and created by MAD Architects.
Demographic shifts, environmental demands, new technologies and social and economic challenges are among the factors with the greatest impact on the future of architecture, determining the central role of sustainability in design. This translates into use of sustainable technologies and materials, as well as innovative waste management and energy conservation solutions and smart buildings employing the Internet of Things (IoT). At the same time, the experience of the pandemic has focused attention on sudden changes in lifestyles and the need for increasingly fluid, flexible spaces that can easily be adapted to users’ changing requirements. MAD Architects’ recent projects fulfil precisely this need, and are set in the context of urban regeneration projects aimed at making cities more sustainable and more functional for their inhabitants by offering new universally accessible landmarks and new kinds of public spaces, such as Quzhou Stadium in Zhejiang province, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles, the mixed-use building MoLo - Mobility and Logistic hub in Milan or the Chongqing Cuntan International Cruise Centre, also in China. Or by offering affordable housing and hybrid mixed-use residential communities promoting diversity and social interaction, such as Beijing’s Baiziwan Social Housing or the Unic in Paris.
As these projects reveal, MAD Architects’ projects do not represent a vision of the future based on form and technology alone, but also address spiritual and philosophical questions. Architecture as a combination of art and science becomes a medium through which to find and express the link between history, nature and humans, as in the Yabuli Entrepreneurs' Congress Centre, a building that is also a work of land art, blending into the landscape around it, the Aranya Cloud Centre, which looks like a cloud floating above the sea, or the Tunnel of Light presented at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Japan. All of these are examples of how architecture can become a new bridge between art and nature, identifying a more human, sustainable path toward an ecological future.
Images courtesy of MAD Architects
Captions and Credits
01 MAD Tunnel of Light, Light Cave courtesy of Tokamachi Tourist Association
02 Beijing 2050, MAD Architects Ma Yansong + Dang Qun + Yosuke Hayano, photo by Zhu Yumeng
03-05 MAD Quzhou-Stadium photo by CreatAR
06-07 MAD Rendering of MoLo, Milan - Italy
08-10 MAD Rendering of Chongqin Cuntan International Cruise Center
11-13 MAD Baiziwan Social Housing
11 Night view of Baiziwan Social Housing, photography by ArchExist
12-13 photography by Zhu Yumeng
14-16 MAD UNIC, Photography by Jared Chulski
17-19 MAD Yabuli Entrepreneurs Congress Center (17) by Blackstaion, (18) by CreatAR Images, (19) by ArchExist
20-21 MAD Rendering of Aranya Cloud Center
22 MAD Tunnel of Light, Light Cave courtesy of Tokamachi Tourist Association