Ma Yansong

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Ma Yansong
Ma Yansong World Economic Forum 2013.jpg
Ma Yansong in 2013
Born 1975
Nationality Chinese
Alma mater Beijing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Yale University
Awards 2010 RIBA International Fellowship
Practice MAD architects
Buildings Absolute World, building 5+6 at Missisauga, Cananda
Projects Beijing 2050
Design Fish Tank[disambiguation needed]
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ma.

Ma Yansong (Chinese: 马岩松; pinyin: Mǎ Yánsōng; born 1975 in Beijing) is a Chinese architect and founder of MAD architects.[1]

Early career[edit]

His most well-known works are "Floating Island" and "Absolute World". "Floating Island" is a design of rebuilding New York World Trade Center which is now saved in Chinese National Gallery.

His first international success was "Absolute World", two high-rise buildings which are located in Mississauga, the sixth largest city in Canada, and was completed in 2011. This was also the first bid for an overseas landmark building that was won by Chinese architects; the design won Ma a $125,000 prize.[2]

MAD architects[edit]

MAD works in forward-looking environments developing futuristic architectures based on a contemporary interpretation of the eastern spirit of nature. All of MAD's projects - from residential complexes or offices to cultural centres - desire to protect a sense of community and orientation toward nature, offering people the freedom to develop their own experience. Founded in 2004 by Ma Yansong, the office first earned worldwide attention in 2006 by winning an international competition to design a residential tower near Toronto, completed at the end of 2012.

MAD has been commissioned by clients of all backgrounds and for a diverse range of designs. MAD’s ongoing projects include two major cultural projects in Harbin: the China Wood Sculpture Museum and Harbin Culture Island, an opera house and cultural center that will retain the original wetlands as an urban park between the old and new city. Additionally, MAD is designing the headquarters of a major fashion brand in Xiamen. MAD’s residential projects strive for a symbiotic relationship between man, shelter and nature. The Huangshan residential villas is designed to nestle into its natural landscapes, whilst the Qingdao private residential courtyard draws inspiration from the experience of a traditional Chinese flaneur and the beauty and emotions developed through meandering across the natural landscape. MAD has several projects underway ranging from conceptual design to construction phases around the world. Internationally, MAD is designing a residential development in the heart of Rome, a mix use development in Amsterdam and the aforementioned Absolute Tower in Toronto, now completed.

In 2011 MAD completed their first museum in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. It is a futuristic shell that protects the cultural history of the region and refutes the rational new city outside. Previous completed projects include the Hutong Bubble 32, a small scale intervention inside the delicate urban tissue of old Beijing, and Hongluo clubhouse, a fluid space without internal boundaries that rises from Hongluo Lake.

MAD is led by Ma Yansong, Dang Qun and Yosuke Hayano. They have been awarded the Young Architecture Award from the New York Institute of Architects in 2006 and the 2011 RIBA international fellowship.

"In China, his firm MAD designed the hutong bubble, a modern extension to traditional Chinese housing."[3] Also, his designed was conceived to Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort.

Design philosophy[edit]

Ma's conception of designing stems from a desire to protect a sense of community and orientation toward nature, He said buildings are public art works, and should therefore reflect human nature and give people infinite imaginations.

Explaining his design ideas, Ma Yansong states:

""The freedom and independence (in the siheyuan structure) have had a significant influence on my work. The idea of architecture coexisting with nature fascinates me.

So much of today's architecture is like a consumer product - mass-produced. A mass-produced item has no spirit. It's disposable - something to be used once and then simply thrown away. ... I want to create timeless designs that move with people and inspire people - to make them feel and think."


  • RIBA President Ruth Reed, in the jury report for the 2010 RIBA international Fellowship:

“Ma Yansong is a young Chinese architect – just 35 – who has come to architectural maturity at a time when his country is beginning to allow the freedom of expression so vital to the artist and sufficient freedom to the economy to allow his ideas to be realized as buildings. His work expresses the tension between the individual imagination and the needs of society as a whole."


  • 2013 D21 Young Chinese Architect Award
  • 2013 Emporis for the world's best new skyscraper (Absolute Towers)
  • 2013 2nd Audi Arts and Design Award in the category Designer of the Year
  • 2012 The Best New High-rise building in the America's by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), (Absolute Towers)
  • 2012 International Property Awards (Fake Hills)
  • 2011 UED museum award (Ordos Museum)
  • 2011 RIBA International Fellowship
  • 2011 Fast Company – one of 10 most innovative companies in China
  • 2009 Fast Company – one of 10 creative people in architecture
  • 2008 ICON magazine – one of 20 most influential young architects
  • 2006 Architecture League Young Architects Award
  • 2001 American Institute of Architects Scholarship for Advanced Architecture Research


  • 2013.10 Palace of China – Architecture China 2013 exhibition, Segovia, Spain
  • 2013.06 Shanshui City Exhibition, Solo Exhibition, Beijing, China
  • 2012.10 Between the Modernity and Tradition, Solo Exhibition, ICO Museum, Madrid, Spain
  • 2011.12 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Shenzhen, China
  • 2011.09 Beijing Design week, Beijing, China
  • 2011.09 Chengdu Biennale: Changing Vistas: Creative Duration, Chengdu, China
  • 2011.06 Living, The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen Denmark
  • 2011.03 Verso Est: Chinese Architectural Landscape, MAXXI, Rome, Italy
  • 2010.10 Rising East: New Chinese Architecture, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany
  • 2010.04 Feelings Are Facts, Olafur Eliasson+Ma Yansong, UCCA, Beijing, China
  • 2009.05 Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
  • 2008.08 Super Star, A Mobile China Town, Uneternal City, 11th Venice Architecture Exhibition, Italy
  • 2008.03 China Design Now, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
  • 2007.11 MAD IN CHINA, solo exhibition, Danish Architecture Center (DAC), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2006.09 Shanghai Art Biennale, Shanghai, China
  • 2006.08 MAD IN CHINA, Solo exhibition, Diocesi Museum, Venice, Italy
  • 2006.07 MAD Under Construction, Solo Exhibition, Tokyo Gallery, Beijing, China
  • 2004.09 1st Architecture Biennial Beijing, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

Further reading[edit]

  • Instability-Craig Konyk,Anne Rieselbach,Architectural League of New York,Page 19
  • Communal Manifesto-Catherine Chan, South China Morning Post [1]
  • Conquering the west-Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times [2]
  • Without imagination there's no history, interview, in STUDIO Architecture and Urbanism magazine,[4] issue#02 Original, Milano, Romolo Calabrese Ed., 2012 [3]


  1. ^ Sci-Arc Lecture: Yansong Ma + Qun Dang, Southern California Institute of Architecture, 2008-03-26
  2. ^ Absolute development still evolving, Globe and Mail, 2006-08-04
  3. ^ When Hutong meets chic bubble, Global Times, 2009-12-15
  4. ^ STUDIO Architecture and Urbanism magazine

External links[edit]