The transgressive universe of MAD, the unstoppable Chinese architectural firm

Founded in 2004 by Ma Yansong, MAD is a heavyweight in Chinese architecture. For several years now, it has also been exporting its deconstructed, poetic and abstract creations, as in Los Angeles with the Lucas Museum. The goal? To arouse an emotion in all those who come across the buildings he signs. Bingo!


With its curves and bay windows, the UNIC is likely to stand out in the traditional Batignolles district of Paris (17th). Currently under construction, this first residential project in Europe by MAD (Ma Design, named after its founder Ma Yansong) leaves no one indifferent, as is often the case with the Chinese firm’s projects. This is the goal, as confirmed by Dang Qun, Yansong’s senior partner:


“We want to push the company further by building environments that create emotions, various feelings…”.


Most often, buildings that contrast with their surroundings, like the Salk Institute of Louis Khan, Dang Qun’s favorite building. Love it or hate it, we reflect and discuss.


Read also: The Iconic Zaha Hadid


MAD’s architects draw their inspiration from nature.


The Batignolles UNIC, inspired by the rice fields, overlooks the Martin Luther King park.
The Batignolles UNIC, inspired by the rice fields, overlooks the Martin Luther King park.


Hence the irregular shapes and the importance they give to light. Before working on a project, the team assigned by the firm always begins by immersing themselves in the environment that will surround their future building. Shan Shui (the art of representing landscapes in Chinese literature) guides us in our work, confides Dang Qun.


“we show our love for nature by interpreting it to better reconstruct it”.


Mountains, lakes, forests, so many familiar lines that fill MAD’s portfolio. The latest example is the Harbin Opera House, which contrasts with the skyline of this city in northeast China.



MAD’s touch around the world


The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, Los Angeles
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, Los Angeles


MAD is not only making a name for itself in China. In addition to the Batignolles project, he is currently working on the Lucas Museum in Los Angeles. A masterpiece of deconstructivism, the transgressive movement carried by Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry among others. Which pays tribute to the work of George Lucas. According to Dang Qun, if its silhouette has seduced promoters, it is thanks to a more artistic approach. But also for its ability to be anchored in the long term in a city with an urban fabric as dense as it is moving, such as L.A. It is also close to where MAD is building 8600 Wilshire, in Beverly Hills. A real estate complex made of glass, concrete and vegetation that is out of step – once again – with the city’s wealthy buildings.


Read also: Five spectacular architectural projects of 2021


Before that, in 2012, Ma Yansong and his colleagues unveiled the Absolute World Towers in Mississauga, Ontario. Towers where each floor is “laid” on the one below with a slight offset. As a result, the buildings look like a spiral staircase. These achievements allow the Chinese architect to make a name for himself and to continue to work on projects. MAD is still in the running to redesign the Montparnasse Tower…

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