Pingtan Art Museuem, Fujian province, China - MAD

MAD creates art museum in caves of a Chinese island

Beijing studio designs artificial island with Asia’s biggest private art museum ensconced in its caves

Ma Yansong is both a high-flyer and a rising star. He only set up his practice MAD nine years ago, but it’s already made waves on the international stage, with big and breathtaking projects in Amsterdam, Rome, Toronto and the Far East. MAD’s USP is that it’s one of the very few China-based firms to achieve such international success. But then, Yansong has a glittering CV that includes a masters degree in Architecture from Yale. Now the Beijing studio has designed an artificial island with Asia’s biggest private art museum ensconsed in its caves.



Called the Pingtan Art Museum, it will sit in a reservoir on Pingtan Island, the largest island in Fujian province. “The island is firstly a public space that is then turned into a museum,” says MAD. “The sea, the beach, the oasis and the slope all interconnect with each other, forming a harmonious capacious space with the mountains in the distance.” The museum is part of a major reinvention of Pingtan, as the architects explain: “The island, which is currently home to fisheries and a military base, will quickly be transformed into an large-scale urban development zone.”



The white concrete island has three mounds which will house the Chinese artworks – 1000 of which will be on display for its maiden show. Inside, light will break through from the skylights, onto the smooth, rounded walls. It’s another feat of architectural derring-do, and we can’t help wondering how MAD keeps getting away with it. Twisted skyscrapers, buildings shaped like stalagmites, a huge blob of an art museum in the Gobi desert… whatever next? If you're interested in Chinese Art you're going to love our forthcoming title The Chinese Art Book.

It presents a definitive selection of 300 works, from the earliest dynasties to the new generation of contemporary artists enlivening the global art world today. It features painting, calligraphy, ceramics and bronzes, contemporary installations, photography and performance art. One of the really interesting things about the way it's been put together (and Phaidon's Diane Fortenberry will be previewing it soon in our Editors Introduce series) is that outstanding examples from all periods are showcased side by side, creating fascinating combinations, each linked with a detailed cross-reference. You can learn more and pre-order it here. 

Meanwhile, if you came into this story via an architecture link this is the way to our fantastic range of architecture books. And if you want to go further with Phaidon, you should consider joining Phaidon Club.