MAD's twisted home for traditional wooden art

Our new book describes how MAD architects created a polished steel home for a wood museum
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The China Wood Sculpture Museum in Harbin, China by MAD Architects, as featured in MAD Works. Photograph by Xia Zhi
The China Wood Sculpture Museum in Harbin, China by MAD Architects, as featured in MAD Works. Photograph by Xia Zhi

Imagine being asked to design a museum for a national treasury of wooden sculptures. Would you go for something that pays tribute to local craftsmanship and vernacular traditions? Maybe you’d even fashion something from timber?

Not if you’re MAD Architects founder Ma Yansong. Since its foundation in 2004, Yansong’s practice has grown into one of the world’s most exciting and audacious architecture firms in the world. At MAD, Yansong and his team fuse the organic with the futuristic, designing visually stunning buildings which at once blend with their surroundings while standing out from them.

 

The China Wood Sculpture Museum in Harbin, China by MAD Architects, as featured in MAD Works. Photograph by Xia Zhi
The China Wood Sculpture Museum in Harbin, China by MAD Architects, as featured in MAD Works. Photograph by Xia Zhi
 

Consider the China Wood Sculpture Museumin Harbin, China, which MAD completed in 2013, and which features in our new overview MAD Works. Drawing inspiration from the local environment, as well as its slightly restricted plot, the ergonomic, polished-steel building is one of East Asia’s finest examples of contemporary architecture.

It seems to slither across its slim site dynamically, as if carried by the momentum of its own creation. Its cladding reflects the immediate area, enabling it to blend despite the contrast it presents. Protruding skylights, meanwhile, are designed to draw in light from the low-hanging, wintry sun – Harbin is evidently not a destination for sun-worshippers. 

The building’s function is to house a collection of traditional art, depicting the local climate and scenery. The structure itself, however, almost qualifies as sculpture in the statements that it makes, perhaps more radical than the pieces it houses.

 

Mad Works by MAD Architects

For more on this building and many others order a copy of MAD Works here. With a foreword by Sir Peter Cook and an interview conducted by Aric Chen, Curator of Art and Design at M+ in Hong Kong, this book, like MAD’s work, is conspicuously outstanding.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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