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Ma Yansong (马岩松)

Founder & Architect

MAD Architects


Founder & Architect


MAD Architects






Lifestyle & Culture




What makes Ma Yansong a Global Shaker?

The first Chinese architect to receive a RIBA fellowship, 42-year-old Ma Yansong (马岩松) is helping to put China on the international architecture scene. Founder of the innovative practice MAD Architects, he focuses on contemporary designs that pay tribute to the traditional Eastern values of nature – with results that can be paradoxically futuristic while rooted in nature and traditional landscapes.

“I don’t like what has happened to our cities, as this is the result of us having followed modernism for such a long time,” Yansong explained to Arch Daily. “Everything has started to look the same and lacks an inner spirituality. Nowadays, function is prioritized over nature and emotions. My architecture is about making a statement. But we are not making a building as an object, we are trying to create a landscape inside the urban environment. I derive my inspiration from traditional Chinese architecture where nature is an integral part of daily life in the city. I am looking for ways to adapt the Chinese traditions of blending nature and architecture to contemporary architecture on urban scale.”

After studying architecture at the Beijing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Yansong later completed his master’s at Yale University, where his project “Floating Islands” was met with wide acclaim. He worked at Zaha Hadid Architects before starting up on his own firm in 2004. Two years later, he won the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects Award, and the same year, his company designed the celebrated Absolute Towers in Ontario, Canada, which was eventually completed in 2006.

Yansong has a clutch of awards, and the company boasts several landmark buildings in mainland China and Taiwan. He is also an adjunct professor at Beijing’s School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, and a visiting professor at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture.

Tags: architecture, Asia

Last updated: May 29, 2019