Ma Yansong

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Ma Yansong
Ma Yansong World Economic Forum 2013.jpg
Yansong during the WEF 2013
Alma materBeijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Yale University
Awards2010 RIBA International Fellowship
PracticeMAD architects
ProjectsAbsolute Towers
Ordos Museum
Chaoyong Park Plaza
Harbin Opera House
Hutong Bubble 32
Wood Sculpture Museum

Ma Yansong (Chinese: 马岩松; pinyin: Mǎ Yánsōng; born in 1975 in Beijing) is a Chinese architect and founder of MAD architects. He serves as adjunct professor at School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, and the visiting professor at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture.

Early life and background[edit]

Ma Yansong was born in Beijing in 1975. He graduated from the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, and holds a master's degree in Architecture from Yale University. He is currently a professor at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture. During his master's degree in Yale, he first received attention for his project "Floating Islands". He founded MAD Architects in 2004.

Design philosophy: Shanshui City[edit]

The famous Chinese scientist Qian Xuesen proposed the concept of "Shanshui City" in the 1980s. In view of the emerging large-scale cement construction, he put forward a new model of urban development based on Chinese Shanshui spirit, which was meant to allow people to "stay out of nature and return to nature." However, this idealistic urban concept was not put into practice. As the world's largest manufacturing base, a large number of soulless "shelf cities" appeared in contemporary China due to the lack of cultural spirit. Qian Xuesen pointed out that modern cities' worship of power and capital leads to maximization and utilitarianism. "Buildings in cities should not become living machines. Even the most powerful technology and tools can never endow the city with a soul." To Ma Yansong, Shanshui does not just refer to nature; it is also the individual's emotional response to the surrounding world. "Shanshui City" is a combination of city density, functionality and the artistic conception of natural landscape. It aims at composing a future city that takes human spirit and emotion at their cores.

Signature Projects[edit]


  • Absolute Towers, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 2006–2012, completed
  • Ordos Museum, Ordos, China, 2005–2011, completed
    • Best Museum, UED
    • Winner of "Metal in Architecture", WAN Awards, 2014
  • Hongluo Clubhouse, Beijing, China, 2005–2006, completed
  • Sino-steel International Plaza, Tianjin, China, 2006
  • Huangdu Art Center, Beijing, China, 2008
  • Hutong Bubble 32, Beijing, China, 2008–2009, completed
  • Fake Hills, Beihai, China 2008–2015, under construction
  • Harbin Opera House, Harbin, China, 2008–2015, under construction
  • Taichung Convention Center, Taiwan, 2009
  • Harbin China Wood Sculpture Museum, Harbin, China, 2009–2012, completed
  • Huangshan Mountain Village, Huangshan, China, 2009–2016, under construction
  • Urban Forest, Chongqing, China, 2009
  • National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, 2011
  • Pingtan Art Museum, Pingtan, China, 2011–2016
  • Chaoyang Park Mixed-use, Beijing, China, 2013–2016
  • Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, Nanjing, China, 2013–2017
  • Vertu, travelling Pavilion, Milan, Shanghai, Dubai, Beijing, London
  • Beijing 2050, Beijing, China
  • Rebuilt WTC, New York, USA
  • 800m Tower, China
  • Changsha Culture Park, Changsha, China
  • KBH Kunsthal, Urban intervention, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Chicago, USA, 2014–2018


  • Shanshui - Experiment - Complex, Shenzhen, China, 2013
  • Moon Landscape, Beijing, China, 2013
  • "Shanshui City" Exhibition, Beijing, China, 2013
  • "Shansui City" for Audi City, Beijing, China
  • The Little Rock Fountain Journal
  • "The Floating Earth" for Alessi
  • Contemplating the Void in Guggenheim, New York, USA, 2009
  • Feelings are facts, Beijing, China, 2010
  • Monster's Footprint, Shenzhen, China, 2009
  • Superstar: A Mobile Chinatown (Uneternal City), Venice, Italy, 2008
  • Ink Ice, Beijing, China
  • Fish Tank


  • 2014 100 Most Creative People in Business, Fast Company
  • 2014 Chaoyang Park Plaza: Chinese Top 10 Buildings
  • 2014 Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort: No.3, Skyscraper Awards 2013, EMPORIS
  • 2013 Designer of the Year, Good Design
  • 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 CTBUH "Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat", (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



“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."

Further reading[edit]

  • Instability-Craig Konyk,Anne Rieselbach,Architectural League of New York,Page 19
  • Conquering the west-Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times [1]
  • Without imagination there's no history, interview, in STUDIO Architecture and Urbanism magazine, issue#02 Original, Milano, Romolo Calabrese Ed., 2012 [2]
  • Sinuous 'Marilyn Monroe' towers shape city's future, CNN [3]
  • An empathetic twist, domus [4]

External links[edit]