MAD Rhapsody

MAD Rhapsody documents the designs of Ma Yansong’s avant-garde architecture firm MAD Architects, which has offices in Beijing, Los Angeles, and Rome. With photographs, drawings, and models, the book—the firm’s second monograph—highlights 23 projects from 2004 to today, both built and in-process, and spanning civic, mixed-use, residential, and commercial buildings, as well as art installations. Known for its futuristic, organic, and technologically daring designs, which seek to create a dialogue with nature, earth, and sky, MAD’s work spans the globe.  With a vision for the future city that is deeply rooted in the spiritual needs of citizens, MAD’s practice seeks to create a unique harmony between humanity and the built environment, both natural and man-made.

One of the foremost architects of his generation, Ma Yansong, 46, designs spaces for “spiritual freedom”, where people can slow down to reflect upon their surroundings and emotions. His projects transcend pure function and architectural languages. By juxtaposing unexpected elements and forms, Ma creates spaces that summon a feeling of dislocation – a meditative, almost surreal state free of any temporal cues. As Philip Jodidio writes in the book’s preface, MAD’s work exhibits a “willful integration or combination of forces that seem contradictory into a coherent whole. It finds forms that are at once astonishing and still not fundamentally out of place. Past and present, artificial and natural, rigid and supple are brought together into what must be described as a fluid vocabulary.” 

In his introduction, critic Paul Goldberger observes that Ma’s work has assimilated elements from the likes of Antoni Gaudi to Eero Saarinen, and “tempered them with a sensitivity to both Chinese and Western urbanism and the Chinese vernacular, added a dollop of pure fantasy and perhaps a bit of science fiction, and come up with a series of architectural statements that, if nothing else, seem entirely of the twenty-first century: technologically adventuresome, flamboyant, bold and monumental in scale, yet with surprising and endearing elements of intimacy.”

From MAD’s curvilinear multibuilding urban developments such as the Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center and the Absolute Towers in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada, as well as the forthcoming Quzhou Sports Campus, to smaller scale projects including the exuberant Courtyard Kindergarten in Beijing and the recently completed Gardenhouse, a lush housing complex that integrates seamlessly into the Beverly Hills milieu while maintaining a sense of surprise and delight, or cultural landmarks such as Lucas Museum of Narrative art in Los Angeles and the FENIX Museum of Migration in Rotterdam, making diversified exposition and expression of different cultures, the firm’s architecture “has the romantic appeal of old-style futurism,” writes Goldberger, with the “sensibility of the digital age.”




MAD Rhapsody


MAD Rhapsody is the most recent publication tracing the development of the studio’s ideas, following MAD X – 10 Projects by MAD Architects (2019), MAD Works (2016), Shanshui City (2015), and MAD Dinner (2008). The monograph preface is authored by Paul Goldberger, contributing editor at Vanity Fair, with an introduction by Philip Jodidio, author of more than 100 books about contemporary architecture. 

Projects include completed projects: Hutong Bubbles, Beijing, China, 2009; Ordos Museum, Ordos, China, 2011; Absolute Towers, Mississauga, Canada, 2012; Clover House, Okazaki, Aichi, Japan, 2015; Harbin Opera House, Harbin, China, 2015; Chaoyang Park Plaza, Beijing, China, 2017; Huangshan Mountain Village, Huangshan, China, 2017; Tunnel of Light, Echigo-Tsumari, Japan, 2018; Gardenhouse, Los Angeles, USA, 2020; Nanjing Sendhai Himalayas Center, Nanjing, China, 2020; UNIC, Paris, France, 2020; Yabuli Conference Center, Yabuli, China, 2020; YueCheng Courtyard Kindergarten, Beijing, China, 2020; The Cloudscape of Haikou, Haikou, China, 2021; and those in process: China Philharmonic Concert Hall, Beijing, China; FENIX Museum of Migration, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Jiaxing Nanhu Future Plaza, Jiaxing, China; Jiaxing Train Station, Jiaxing, China; Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles, USA; Quzhou Sports Campus, Quzhou, China; Shenzhen Bay Culture Park, Shenzhen, China; Xinhee Design Center, Xiamen, China; Yiwu Grand Theater, Yiwu, China.

Author : Ma Yansong, Preface by Paul Goldberger, Introduction by Philip Jodidio
Publisher : Rizzoli Electa
Publication Date : October 5, 2021
ISBN :  978-0-8478-6962-6
Format : Hardcover | 288 pages
Dimensions : 10 x 12 inches (trim) | 1.25 pounds
MAD X – 10 Projects by MAD Architects

MAD was founded, in Beijing, in 2004 by architect Ma Yansong. The agency designs organic and dreamlike architecture that evokes – one could say invokes – man’s spiritual and emotional connection with nature, the sky and the earth. An architecture of fiction, even anticipation, where nature and architecture merge.

In 2018, the Centre Pompidou (Mnam-Cci) acquired a set of models for its permanent collections representing the agency’s most significant projects from 2005 to the present day. On the occasion of the presentation of these works in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, MAD Architects edited MAD X 10 projects by MAD Architects with HYX Publishing.

This book, conceived and designed by Ma Yansong, offers a “journey” among the agency’s most significant projects, through photomontages, drawings, models and photographs. In particular, the following are presented: the agency’s first international project built in Canada, the “Absolute Towers” (2006-2012) – also known in Toronto as “Marilyn Monroe Towers”-; the “Harbin Opera House” (2010-2015) and the “Chaoyang Park Plaza” (2012-2017) in China; the “Clover House” (2012-2016) in Japan; the “Lucas Museum of Narrative Art” in the United States (2016-2021); and “UNIC”, the first project, carried out in France, to be delivered in Paris in 2019. A contribution by Frédéric Migayrou allows us to discover and put into perspective the aesthetic and philosophical challenges of this naturalized architecture. A portrait of Ma Yansong by Frédéric Edelmann introduces the projects presented.

If the Roman numeral “X” symbolizes the agency’s ten emblematic projects, it also has a completely different meaning for Ma Yansong: the unknown and a passion for exploring new territories. How can we imagine the city of the future? In its work, MAD Architects strives to create a balance between human beings, the city and the environment, with particular attention to the spiritual and emotional needs of the inhabitants, their connection with nature.

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Softcover : 160 pages
Publisher : HYX Publishing (April 9, 2019)
Language(s) : English, French
ISBN : 978-2-37382-016-4
Illustrations : B&W, with four colour images
Dimensions : 10 × 250 × 350 mm
MAD Works

MAD Works MAD Architects, published by Phaidon is the first complete overview of the most important contemporary architecture practice to have emerged from China in the past 15 years. MAD’s vision is to create a future that meets the spiritual and emotional needs of residents, striking a balance between humanity and the built environment.

MAD Works is illustrated with 300 photographs, architectural drawings, and 3D renderings that provide a thorough exploration of MAD’s international portfolio of completed works, unbuilt projects, and future ideas. The book features a significant range of buildings including museums, theaters, and residences, as well as commissioned designs for urban planning, urban complexes, and old neighborhood renovations. Organized thematically, this comprehensive architectural monograph explores the underlying concepts of MAD’s architectural works.

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Hardcover : 240 pages
Publisher : Phaidon (October 17, 2016)
Language : English
ISBN-10 : 0714871966
ISBN-13 : 978-0714871967
Illustrations : 250 color, 50 black and white
Dimensions : 11 ⅜ x 9 ⅞ inches
Shanshui City

Shanshui City is an important turning point for Ma Yansong’s over ten years of architectural practice and theory; this abbreviated manifesto on Shanshui philosophy expands beyond nature and captures the individual emotional response to the surrounding world. Shanshui City combines the functionality of urban density with the artistic idealization of natural landscape to compose a future city–one which maintains human spirit and emotion at its core.

Designed by Kenya Hara, Shanshui City features contributions by key Eastern and Western including Hans Ulrich Obrist and Lorenza Baroncelli.

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Hardcover : 208 pages
Publisher : Lars Müller Publishers (Jul.25, 2015)
Language : English
ISBN-10 : 3037784571
ISBN-13 : 978-3037784570
Dimensions : 12.2 x 7.2 x 1.1 inches
Shanshui City (Chinese Version)

Ma’s poetic, yet precise language details the development and practice of design philosophy “Shanshui City”, at the core of which is the idea that, “architects should delineate a new ideal for the city of the future, to gradually construct an urban environment that embodies both the convenience of the modern city and the ancient Eastern affinity for the natural world.” “Shanshui” is an idealized worldview developed by Chinese through extended contact with the natural world, a worldview that integrates the everyday life of humanity with the impulse to seek spiritual refuge in nature. This “Shanshui City” is not simply an eco-city, or a garden-city, nor does it imply modeling the city’s architecture on natural forms such as mountains. It represents humanity’s affinity for the natural world, and our quest for inner fulfillment, as expressed in philosophies of the East

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Hardcover : 206 pages
Publisher : Imaginist (October 1, 2014)
Language : Chinese
ISBN : 9787549558278
Dimensions : 31.2 x 18.6 x 2.4 cm
MAD Dinner

MAD DINNER is the first book by MAD office, Beijing-based architectural office. Organized around the metaphor of dinner table conversation, the book is a collection of ideas and opinions about topics ranging from politics to ecology to fame to the future. The dinner’s “guests” include people from all levels of Chinese society: a government official, hairdresser, migrant laborers, a doctor, a taxi driver, and a developer are all brought together to offer their views in an atmosphere of openness and exchange. MAD’s work is embedded in a series of extended conversations with international advisors, including the Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, British writer Ian Buruma, filmmakers Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke, and the artist Ai Weiwei. The conversations work in tandem with MAD’s proposals to reveal their essential account of the architect’s practice and experience inside of China, the fastest urbanization in world history.

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Paperback : 520 pages
Publisher : Actar; Bilingual edition (July 1, 2008)
Language : English
ISBN-10 : 8496954218
ISBN-13 : 978-8496954212
Dimensions : 1.4 x 7.5 x 9.4 inches
MA YANSONG: From (Global) Modernity to (Local) Tradition

Actar and Museo ICO have published a new monograph on Ma Yansong. It is the result of an exhibition held in the Museum ICO in Madrid, Spain. The title shares its name with the internationally acclaimed architect, Ma Yansong, who lives and works in Beijing, China and whose scope of work is encompassed worldwide. ‘Ma Yansong’ includes several essays as well as images of the exhibition and a collection of the architect’s last eight years of work.

In the new book, the curator of Casa Asia Menene Gras provides a provocative understanding of the Chinese historical relationship between nature and the city to reveal Ma Yansong, a body of work that reflects a recurring classical theme, actualized by China’s most visionary architect.

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Paperback : 384 pages
Publisher : Actar (March 1, 2013)
Language : Spanish
ISBN-10 : 8415391366
ISBN-13 : 978-8415391364
Dimensions : 9.7 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
Bright City

This volume is the second in a series of pocket-book interviews with key cultural figures by internationally renowned curator, cultural agitator and pioneer Jérome Sans. Here, Sans interviews Ma Yansong (born 1975), the founder of MAD Architects and architect of “Floating Island” and Absolute World.”

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Paperback : 96 pages
Publisher : Blue Kingfisher (November 30, 2012)
Language : English
ISBN-10 : 9881506409
ISBN-13 : 978-9881506405
Dimensions : 7 x 4.3 x 0.4 inches