MAD, the studio founded by architect Ma Yansong, designed a housing development comprising ten buildings in Huangshan, in the province of Anhui, China.
The Huangshan mountain chain, literally meaning yellow mountain, is an important tourist attraction in eastern China renowned for its landscapes and natural beauty. The granite formations of the mountains, the vegetation featuring pine trees modelled by the weather and the optical effects created by unusual cloud formations topped by towering mountain peaks earned the area inclusion in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1990. But the area’s fame goes back much further than that: the Huangshan landscape has inspired countless landscape painters throughout history, and artists have always loved to withdraw to the area to contemplate nature and reflect. UNESCO World Heritage Site status and the film Avatar (2009) directed by James Cameron, in which the mountains of Huangshan provided the inspiration for the floating mountains of Pandora, have increased the popularity of the place, leading to demand for new tourist accommodations. MAD’s recently completed Huangshan Mountain Village project is part of a masterplan for development of the whole Taiping Lake area.
Aware that they were working in a place of great importance in terms of the natural landscape, the architects of MAD designed a housing development that does not create conflict with its natural surroundings. The differences in the height and appearance of the ten buildings making up Huangshan Mountain Village were determined by respect for local topography. The architects chose to preserve the visual relationship with the mountain chain. The dynamic relationship between the different buildings creates a new, architectural landscape which interacts with the natural one. The buildings stand on the southern shore of Taiping Lake, and Fernando Guerra’s photograph recalls Shan Shui, a well-known Chinese landscape painting technique which was a source of inspiration for the architects.
Architect Ma Yansong says that every visit to Taiping Lake calls up different images and impressions; it is a place with a mysterious fascination, like that of Shan Shui paintings, which are not based on representation of reality but on an image thereof.
The architects therefore worked on a project that would call up these inexplicable, poetic images. Each home is designed to allow the residents to look at the view and feel that they are immersed in it, as a part of it and not just onlookers.
Each apartment has a big balcony, the shape of which is determined by the organic lines of the site’s topography. These big patios with their sinuous shapes recall the nearby tea plantations, and are all different, as if they were sculpted by wind and water. The big outdoor spaces are privileged viewpoints over the landscape allowing the inhabitants to feel like a part of the scenario surrounding them, the mountain chains, the lake and the sky.
The Huangshan Mountain Village project is an expression of what architect Ma Yansong defines as his philosophy of “Shanshui City”: a form of architecture that does not draw on the forms of nature but creates spaces where people can reconnect with nature on a spiritual level, so that architecture becomes capable of calling up emotions for self-realisation.
Design: MAD Architects
Architects: Ma Yansong, Qun Dang, Yosuke Hayano
Associate: Liu Huiying
Team: Philippe Brysse, Tiffany Masako Dahlen, Luke Lu, WANG Deyuan, Jakob Beer, ZHAO Wei, LI Guangchong, Kayla Lee, Geraldine Lo, Alejandra Obregon, Zeng Lingdong, Achille Tortini, Matthew Rosen, Gustavo Maya, ZHENG Fang, Sarita Tejasmit, Augustus Chan, Jeong-Eun Lee
Client: Greenland Hong Kong Holdings Limited
Executive Plan: HSarchitects
Interior Design: Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration
Landscape Design: Broadacre Source Landscape
Curtain Wall Design: Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Decoration Engineering Co., Ltd
Lighting Design: Shanghai Mofo Lighting
Location: Huangshan, China
Photos: Laurian Ghinitoiu, Fernando Guerra, Hufton+Crow