As winter was coming to an end, the members of MAD went to Harbin, a city of ice and snow, to visit the construction site of the Harbin Cultural Island and the newly-built China Wood Sculpture Museum in Qunli New District.
Upon arrival, the group made their way to the Harbin Cultural Island by bus. There are two parts to the Cultural Island: the Grand Theater and the Cultural Center, both of which have been under construction since 2010. Against a background of white snow, the partially-built structures looked like an undulating mountain range, blending in with the landscape of northern China. Accompanied by representatives of the local government, the MAD group had the opportunity to walk through the construction of the unfinished Grand Theater. Its progress fascinated the group as they moved through and experienced the building in all of its splendor, surrounded by the beauty of nature.
After the site visit, the group proceeded to the Northeast Tigers Park, a large reserve for tigers, nestled in a densely urban surrounding. From the tour buses, the MAD members saw a number of tigers and were later allowed to walk around the enclosures, getting closer to the large cats. It was exciting for the whole team to see so many tigers for the first time.
Before sunset, the group was taken to an even more magical place - the Harbin Ice and Snow World, 60 hectares (150 acres) of large transparent ice structures, made of 180,000 cubic meters of ice. The architects were able to experience a number of activities such as sledding and tubing. As night fell, the inside of the structures were lit up.
Early the next morning, most of the group moved to the ski slopes in the suburbs. There were plenty of accomplished snowboarders and skiers in the group, MAD is definitely a group of people who know how to balance work and play. The final destination was the newly-built Wood Sculpture Museum in Qunli New District. Another result of MAD's unconventional concepts and pursuit of nature, it offers a dramatic contrast to the surrounding urban conditions and breaks the stereotype of Chinese urban architecture as it reconnects the city with nature and provides a fresh image to the community.
After this busy and stimulating two-day trip to Harbin, the MAD members returned to Beijing, to their own unconventional work space; in fact, MAD itself represents a surreal outpost in China!