- info
1 / 13

‘MAD X’ showcases ten of MAD’s most significant projects to date. “While ‘X’ represents the ten projects that are on show, it also has another meaning – ‘X’ also signifies the ‘unknown’,” says Ma Yansong, Founder and Principal Partner of MAD. “With ‘X,’ I hope to express my desire for exploring unchartered territory, which I believe is more important than reiterating the past.” The permanent collection exhibition exemplifies the evolution of MAD’s architectural practice and design philosophy since its establishment in 2004, led by Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, and Yosuke Hayano.

The scenography of ‘MAD X’ sees the collection of twelve models forming an island at the centre of the exhibition space. Collectively, they create a harmonious new city that expresses the feeling of ‘landscape’ often experienced through many of MAD’s works – a new type of metropolis that is filled with the unknown, yet with vaguely familiar forms and spaces that are slowly becoming a new reality.

The ‘landscape’ emerges between images and words, sketches and poems, like pages of a book floating in the atmosphere. Contrasting the actuality of the rigid, matchbox cities in which the projects are individually located, combined, they create an emotional atmosphere – one that is often reflected in Eastern philosophy – that nurtures a spiritual connection between humanity and nature. Each unique work of architecture demonstrates MAD’s exploration of a type of ‘dream architecture’ that seeks to open up a dialogue with nature, earth, and the sky.

From the firm’s first built international project, the ‘Absolute Towers’ (Mississauga, 2006-2012), also known locally as the “Marilyn Monroe Towers”; the ‘Harbin Opera House’ (Harbin, 2010-2015) and ‘Chaoyang Park Plaza’ (Beijing, 2012-2017); ‘Clover House’ (Okazaki, 2012-2016); the ‘Lucas Museum of Narrative Art’ (Chicago, 2014-2016, Los Angeles, 2016-2021); and, ‘UNIC’ (Paris, 2012-2019) – MAD’s first project to be completed in France; ‘MAD X’ represents the diversity of MAD’s architectural practice, and expresses how the firm endeavors to create a balance between humanity, the city, and the environment.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue entitled ‘MAD X – 10 Projects by MAD Architects’ featuring contributions by Frédéric Migayrou, Deputy Director of the Centre Pompidou, and Curator of ‘MAD X’, and Frédéric Edelmann, Architecture Critic for Le Monde. Migayrou puts into perspective the aesthetic and philosophical complexities that are encompassed in MAD’s architecture; while Edelmann introduces the projects presented, crafting a unique portrait of Ma Yansong. “For Ma, it is a matter of paying homage to nature, of proposing a dreamlike form, unlike the low-rise boxes and towers that have flourished everywhere,” Edelmann says. The book is illustrated with models, sketches, and photographs by Iwan Baan, Hélène Binet, Hufton_Crow and Adam Mørk, portraying the same atmospheric impression that MAD has successfully instilled into its work.

“Ma Yansong’s architecture is based on an economy of territorial inscriptions, which ultimately reject any spatial preconditions, in order to be defined by the natural, historical, and social qualities of a territory – the form unfolding as a revealer, as a new singularity, that manifests the complexity of each context.”

- Frédéric Migayrou

Location : Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Type : Permanent Collection Exhibition
Time : April 2019-April 2020
Directors : Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Associate Partners : Liu Huiying, Kin Li, Tiffany Dahlen, Fu Changrui, Andrea D’Antrassi, Lu Junliang (Dixon), Flora Lee
Curator : Frédéric Migayrou
Scenography : Ma Yansong
MAD’s Curatorial Design Team : Tammy Xie, Andrea Chin, Esther Greslin, Ma Yue, Li Ran