China – MAD Architects completes the Chaoyang Park Plaza at the the southern edge of Beijing’s Chaoyang Park ─ the Chinese capital’s equivalent of New Yorks’ Central Park. Inspired by mountains, brooks, creeks, rocks, valleys depicted in traditional Shan shui landscape paintings, the 220.000 sqm complex features 10 buildings remodeling the relationship of large-scale architecture within our urban centers.
The asymmetrical twin towers on the north side of the site sit at the base of the park’s lake and remind two mountain peaks growing out of the water. The skyscrapers, are detailed with huge curved fins that form peaks and grooves to mimic natural erosion.
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“In modern cities, architecture is seen more as a symbol of capital, power or technological development.” Explains to Archipanic architect MAD Architects’ Ma Yansong. “But in traditional Eastern cities architecture and Nature are designed as a whole, creating an atmosphere that serves to fulfill one’s spiritual pursuits,”
“We wanted to blur the boundary between nature and the artificial, and make it so that both are designed with the other in mind. Then, the argument in the modern logic of humans to protect or to destroy nature will no longer exist if we understand and see humans and nature as co-existing.”
Indeed, Beijing’s Chaoyang Park was conceived as an extension of the park into the city, naturalizing the a strong artificial skyline and borrowing scenery from Chinese garden architecture, where nature and architecture blend into one another. The project has a similar position and function as Central Park in Manhattan, but differs from “modern box-like buildings that only create a separation between the park and the city”.
Also small-scale, low-rise commercial buildings appear as mountain rocks that have endured long-term erosion. They seem to be randomly placed, but their strategic relationship to one another forms a secluded, yet open, urban garden offering a place where people can meet within nature in the middle of the city.
The two multi-story Armani apartments to the southwest continue this concept of “open air living” with their staggered balconies, offering each residential unit more opportunities to be exposed to natural sunlight, and ultimately feel a particular closeness to nature.
The overall environment is shaped by smooth, curved surfaces of black and white, creating a quiet and mysterious atmosphere. “It is one that evokes the emotion and aesthetic resonance of a traditional Chinese ink painting, creating a tranquil escape from the surrounding, bustling urban environment”.
The landscape weaving itself in between the buildings incorporates pine trees, bamboo, rocks and ponds ─ all traditional Eastern landscape elements implying a deeper connection between the architecture and classical space. Japanese graphic artist Kenya Hara led the design of the “simple” and “refined” signage system for the project”.
All images by MAD Architects.