Ma Yansong & MAD presented their installation, dubbed the Shanshui Experiment Complex at the the Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. The elaborate model is based on Nanjing Zendai Thumb Plaza, the firm's new master-plan for the Chinese city. The model, and the proposal more generally, are indicative of the firm's commitment to meeting the demands of modern urban China through naturalistic architectural efforts. The name given to this approach is Shan-Shui City, a phrase that predates MAD but has been extensively developed through the designs of Yansong, the firm's founder. Its first two words translate as mountain and water, the two pillars of Chinese landscape painting. In the context of Yansong's practice these two representatives of the natural world are seamlessly incorporated into the urban context in which MAD operates. In doing so MAD attempts to distance itself from the notion that the man-made and natural environments exist on opposite ends of a strictly defined binary. In the Nanjing proposal the blurring of these lines results in a series of buildings that avoid the obscene heights of the new skyscrapers increasingly prevalent in 21st-century skylines. The shapely structures are imbued with an organic irregularity that allows them to meld with the surrounding atmosphere without trying to breakthrough it. Amongst these mountains curved pathways link plazas in which artificial and natural landscaping coexist and the distinction between the two is ambiguous. Here, the natural world is not relegated to strictly defined green spaces but is instead allowed to pervade every aspect of the urban environment. The aesthetics on display in the installation are very much in keeping with other MAD projects also conceptualized along Shan-shui principles. Situated within the Yangtze River Delta and surrounded by mountains, the rapidly growing city of Nanjing is a fitting location for the implementation of Yansong's methods. If all goes according to plan, MAD's creations should be added to the Nanjing landscape by 2017.
Posts tagged with "MAD":
On June 13th the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) announced their choices for this years best tall buildings in the world. The CTBUH, an international not-for-profit association, picked four regional winners, including the Absolute Towers in Mississuaga, Canada for the Americas; 1 Blight Street, Sydney for Asia and Australia; Palzzo Lombardia, Milan, representing Europe; and Doha Tower, Doha, Qatar for the Middle East and Africa. These four buildings were recognized for making “an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for achieving sustainably at the broadest level,” according to a statement from the CTBUH. Additionally, the Al Bahar tower in Abu Dhabi won the first ever Innovation Award for its high-tech computerized sunshade. Together, these projects represent a global renaissance in the development of tall buildings, highlighting innovations in high design, big engineering, and groundbreaking green technologies. According to CTBUH, a record number of buildings over 200 meters were completed last year, with 88 in 2011 compared to 32 in 2005. 2012 will prove to be the biggest year yet for tall buildings, with 96 set to be completed. CTBUH will name the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” at their Annual Awards Ceremony at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Crown Hall on October 18th. Absolute Towers – Missisuaga, Ontario, Canada Tower 1: 589 feet. Tower 2: 529 feet. MAD Architects of Beijing brought a new sensuality to this fast growing Toronto suburb with a pair of curving condominium towers. While contributing to a growing trend of high-profile sinuous skyscrapers, including New York by Gehry, Chicago’s Aqua Tower, and the Capital Gate by RMJM Dubai in Abu Dhabi, the two Absolute Towers go above and beyond their contemporaries as the entire buildings twist and turn to achieve their naturalistic forms. Dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe towers” by locals for their voluptuous designs, the two structures are wrapped in balconies around the entire facade. “The building is sculpture-like in its overall effect,” said lead architect Ma Yansong, “and its design expresses the universal language of audacity, sensuality, and romance.” 1 Bligh Street – Sydney, Australia 507 feet Designed by Ingenhoven Architects of Germany and Australian firm Architectus, One Bligh Street is the most sustainable office tower in Australia and the first Australian tower honored by the CTBUH. Located in Sydney’s central business district, the elliptical building contains Australia’s tallest naturally ventilated skylight atrium, which extends the entire height of the structure allowing sunlight to pour into the interior and adding a sense of openness throughout. Cementing its place as a sustainability leader, One Bligh features a basement sewage plant which recycles 90% of the building’s waste water, a double skin façade with automated external louvers that adjust according to the sun’s location, and uses hybrid gas and solar energy for temperature control. Palazzo Lombardia – Milan, Italy 529 feet In the first Italian tower honored by CTBUH, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners have combined sleek design, sustainable technology, and a variety of public spaces in this fashionable mixed-use government center fit for the style capital of Europe. Built as the seat for the regional government offices of the Lombardy region, the complex integrates a thin office tower flanked by smaller 7- to 9-story curvilinear buildings that snake around its base. The shorter office “strands” house cultural, entertainment, and retail facilities and surround a series of interconnected public plazas and parks, the largest of which recalls Milan’s famous Galleria with its curved glass roof. The project makes use of its proximity to an underground river with geothermal heat pumps that cool and heat the buildings. Other ecological efforts include 7,000 square feet of green roofs, photovoltaic panels on the southern facade, and double-layer active climate walls containing rotating aluminum shading fins. Doha Tower – Doha, Qatar 780 feet Recalling his Torre Agbar in Barcelona, Jean Nouvel has constructed another interestingly-shaped tower, this time as an innovative and contextual landmark for the capital of Qatar. The Doha Tower is the first tall building to use reinforced concrete dia-grid columns in a cross shape, maximizing interior space by eliminating a central core. While its cylindrical, dome-topped shape is eye-catching enough, the tower really stands out for its complex, layered facade. Composed of a series of aluminum bris-soleils based on traditional Islamic geometric screens, or mashrabiyas, the building’s skin connects local vernacular designs to the extremely modern tower while providing shade for tenants and creating a rich exterior texture. Al Bahar Towers – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 475 feet This pair of towers by Aedas Architects has been honored with the first-ever Innovation Award for their modern and technologically advanced take on the mashrabiya. While traditionally made of wood latticework, the sunscreen of the Al Bahar is made up of over 1,000 computerized umbrellas composed of Teflon-coated fiberglass mesh panes on triangular steel and aluminum frames. Powered by photovoltaic cells on the buildings’ roofs, these shades open and close as they respond to the sun, providing 80% shading and reducing solar gain by over 50% without resorting to visually impeding tinting. The scale of this highly dynamic skin has never been achieved before, demonstrating new levels of innovation within a contextual aesthetic framework.
The Museum of Art and Design held its reception for architects and designers last Friday, and while the tchotke-lined galleries were packed with fancypants and fancy glasses, AN did not spot too many boldfaces--perhaps everyone was home warming up their popcorn for the debate. We did see Barry Bergdoll, Matilda McQuade, and Karen Stein and even asked a few people what they thought of Brad Cloepfil's resplendent new digs. Raj Patel, a designer at ARUP who worked on the museum, said it was good the team could get together and enjoy the space it worked so hard on. "A lot of people have spent a lot of time and worked a lot on the process of making this happen," Patel said. "Now it's time to celebrate." And his favorite part of the museum? "Obviously, the building is best at day, but the light is just amazing no matter what." Suzanne Stephens, the deputy editor at Record, wasn't so sure. "Everyone's talking about the debate," she said, "but when they aren't, it's the lighting strategy. It's either got to be party lighting or museum lighting. You can't have both." She did agree with Patel on one point, though. "I'll have to decide during the day." Cloepfil spent most of the night holding court near the door. Asked about the economy, which, after the debate and the lighting, seemed to be on everyone's mind, the Portland-based designer took a jab at himself. "Do we need museums that cost $1,200 per square-foot?" he asked, gesturing around the lobby. "I'm not sure we do. I don't think there's any wrong with that, but it's not sustainable for now. We just have to adapt, cut back. Cut the fat. It'll be good, cleansing." Here's to slimmer architecture.
Few buildings have sparked as much architectural criticism as Two Columbus Circle, the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Brad Cloepfil's firm Allied Works has designed the new museum, set within the bones of Edward Durrell Stone's old building. Critical reaction has been split, though the MAD haters seem to outnumber the fans. In the haters column: Nicolai Ouroussoff, who called the building "poorly detailed and lacking in confidence"; the now shuttered (sorry neocons) New York Sun's James Gardner, who called it "emphatically not good"; and Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times, who deemed it "schoolmarmish." Ouch. Among the fans and apologists: The New Yorker's Paul Goldberger acknowledged Cloepfil's difficulty in dealing with Stone, when he wrote, "rarely has an architect been pulled so completely in opposite directions,” but he added that the interior is “functional, logical, and pleasant to be in”; Blair Kamin, in the Chicago Tribune, offered mild praise when he wrote that the building, "while no masterpiece, turns out to be a better example of architectural recycling than its critics predicted"; the project's strongest defense came from the keyboard of Bloomberg's James Russell, who called the museum a "work of subtlety and substance." In a second piece, Ouroussoff called for the building's demolition, prompting blogger CultureGrrl at artsjournal to write, "it's time to demolish Ouroussoff." The woman arguably at the center of the debate (and the debate about the debate), Ada Louise Huxtable, is notably silent to date. Will she take up the subject once again?