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Huangshan Mountain Village, MAD Architects, China

An Alpine World of Concrete: Huangshan Mountain Village in China

Nature is unmistakably a source of design inspiration for Ma Yansong, founder of the MAD architecture studio. Of course, this relationship is not direct – rather, these designs borrow from the idealized, elaborate portrayals of nature in traditional Chinese landscape painting. In Chinese, this is known as shan shui, which explains why Yansong has given his urban-planning guiding principle the name Shanshui City.

MAD Architects have created a miniature Shanshui City on Taiping Lake, which is located in Central China, about 400 kilometres southwest of Shanghai. The area features both real and artistically exaggerated nature: the Huangshan Mountains immediately south of the lake, with their bizarre, pine-covered cliff formations, could have been taken directly from a shan shui painting. In order to reach the lotus-blossom peak at the highest point of the mountain range, tourists ascend a dizzying stairway with no less than 60,000 steps.

MAD’s ten conjoined residential towers on the south bank of the lake have significantly fewer steps. The complex is part of a larger master plan to open up the lake to tourism. As in the mountains, meandering paths wind their way up from the lakeshore and move among the buildings. According to MAD, the shape of the towers was inspired by the region’s typical terraced landscape, which is used for the cultivation of tea. It is fitting for a nature-based landscape that no two adjacent balconies have the same shape. With the exception of the few closed-off wall surfaces on the land-facing side of the buildings, floor-to-ceiling glazing offers a 360-degree view of both the lake and the alpine world to the south.
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Principles in Charge:
Ma Yansong, Qun Dang, Yosuke Hayano
Associate in Charge: 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
Interior Design: Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration
Landscape architecture: Broadacre Source Landscape
Planning of facade: Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Decoration Engineering Co., Ltd
Planning of light: Shanghai Mofo Lighting
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