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I am an architect.
And this picture shows the city that I come from,
Beijing, China.
And old Beijing is like a very beautiful garden,
you can see a lot of nature.
When I was a kid,
I learned to swim in this lake
and I climbed mountains every day after school.
But after getting older,
we built more and more modern buildings.
And they all look the same.
They all look like matchboxes.
Why are modern buildings and cities full of these boxy shapes?
In this photo, you actually see two cities.
The one on the left is New York,
and the one on the right is Tianjin, a Chinese city
that's being constructed.
And they have very similar skylines.
Maybe they also follow the same principle.
You know, competing for density,
competing for more space,
competing for efficiency.
Therefore, modern architecture
becomes a symbol of capital and power.
Chinese cities are building a lot,
they're also, you know,
not only competing for this space and height,
they're also learning a lot from North American urban strategies
[and] also repeat a lot from city to city.
So here, we call it 1,000 cities with one face.
So as an architect in China,
I have to ask myself, what can I do about it?
One day, I was walking on a street,
I saw people selling fish.
And they put the fish in this cubic fish tank.
So I was asking the same question,
why a cubic space for fish?
Do they like cubic space?
Obviously not.
So maybe the cubic space, cubic architecture,
is cheaper, is easier to make.
So, I did this small research,
I put a camera and I tried to observe how fish behave
in this cubic space.
And then I found they probably weren't happy.
The cubic space wasn't the perfect home for them,
so I decided to design a new fish tank for them.
I think it should be more organic,
it should be a more fluid space inside.
More complex interiors.
I think they should feel happier living in this space,
but I wouldn't know because they don't talk to me.
But one year after,
we got this opportunity to design this real building for humans.
This is actually a pair of towers
that we built in Mississauga, a city outside Toronto.
And people call this Marilyn Monroe Towers --
because of its curvature.
And the idea was to build a tower,
high-rise, residential tower, but not a box.
It's more inspired by nature,
with the sunshine and wind dynamics.
After we finished designing the first tower,
they told us, you know,
"You don't have to design the second one,
you just repeat the same design,
and we pay you twice."
But I said, "You cannot have two Marilyn Monroes standing there."
And nature never repeats itself,
so now we have two buildings that can dance together.
So I have this question for myself.
You know, why, in the modern city,
we often think architecture is a machine, is a box?
So here, I want to see how people looked at nature in the past.
By looking into this Chinese traditional painting,
I found that they often mixed
the nature and the artificial, man-made, in a very dramatic way,
so they create this emotional scenery.
So in the modern city, my question is:
Is there a way that we don't separate buildings and nature,
but combine them?
So there's another project that we built in China.
It's a quite large residential complex.
And it's located in a very beautiful nature setting.
To be honest, the first time when I visited the site,
it was too beautiful.
And I almost decided to reject the project
because you feel as a criminal to do anything there.
I don't want to become a criminal.
But my second thought was,
if I didn't do it,
they would just put, you know, standard urban towers there, anyway.
And that would be a pity.
So I decided I had to give it a try.
So the way we did that was
we took the contour lines from the existing mountains,
and we took those lines and then translated them into a building.
So those towers are actually taking the shapes
and geometries from the nature.
So each building has a different shape,
a different size, different height.
And they become the extension of the nature
[where] they're situated.
And you know,
people think we use computer sometimes
to design this kind of architecture,
but I actually use a lot of hand sketch,
because I like the randomness in the hand sketch.
And they can carry sort of emotions
that cannot be made by computers.
Architecture and humans and nature can coexist together
and are having a good relationship in this photo.
Actually this guy in the photo is one of the architects on our team.
I think he's been enjoying the beautiful nature scenery,
and feeling relieved that he is not part of the criminals --
in the end.
Back to the city,
in Beijing, we were asked to design these urban towers.
And I made this model.
It's an architecture model,
looks like a minimountain and minivalleys.
I put this model on my table, and I watered it every day.
And years later, we completed this building.
And you can see how my hand sketch
is being translated into the real building.
And they look quite similar.
It looks like a black mountain.
And this is how this building is situated in the city.
It's on the edge of this beautiful park.
It's different, very different from the surrounding buildings,
because other buildings are trying to build a wall around the nature.
But what we're trying to do here
is to make the building itself as a part of nature,
so we can extend the nature from the park into the city.
So that was the idea.
A Chinese art critic drew this painting.
He put our building in this painting.
Can you see there's a black, tiny mountain?
That looks very fit into this painting.
However, in this reality,
our design was being challenged
that it looks so different from the surroundings.
And they asked me to modify my design,
either color or shape,
to make the building fit the context better.
So my question was,
why it fits this traditional, you know, natural context,
better than the reality?
Maybe there's something wrong with the reality.
Something wrong with the context.
In the very northern part of China,
we also built this opera house.
It's an opera house next to the river,
in the wetland park.
So we decided to make this building part of the surrounding landscape
and merge into the horizon.
The building literally looks like a snow mountain.
And people can walk on the building.
During the day or when there's no opera,
people come here, they can enjoy the views,
and they can continue their journey from the park
onto the building.
When they reach the rooftop,
there's an amphitheater that's framing the sky,
where they can sing to the sky.
Inside the opera,
we have this lobby with a lot of natural light,
and they can also enjoy this semi-indoor-outdoor space,
and they can see the beautiful view around them.
I've been building several mountains,
and here I'm trying to show you
one building that I think looks like a cloud.
It's the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts
that's being constructed in the city of Los Angeles.
It's a museum created by George Lucas,
the creator of the "Star Wars" movies.
Why a building that looks like a cloud?
Because I think, I imagine, the cloud is mysterious.
It's nature.
It's surreal when this natural element landed in the city.
And it makes you feel curious about it,
and you want to explore it.
So that's how the building landed on earth.
By lifting this museum,
making it float above the ground,
we can free up a lot of landscape and space underneath the building.
And then we can, at the same time,
create this roof garden above the building
where you can visit and enjoy the view.
This museum will be completed in the year 2022,
and you're all invited when it's completed.
So after building all these mountains and clouds,
now we're building these volcanoes
back in China.
This is actually a huge sports park
with four stadiums in it,
with one football stadium [with] 40,000 seats in there.
So it's a very large project.
And you see from this photo,
you can hardly tell where there's building and where there's landscape.
So the building becomes a landscape.
Even becomes a land art,
where people can walk around the building,
they can climb this building
as they're wandering in this volcano park.
And this rendering shows one of the spaces in those volcanoes.
This is actually a swimming pool
with natural light coming from above.
So, what we're trying to create
actually is an environment that blurs the boundary
in between architecture and nature.
So architecture is no longer a functional machine for living.
It also reflects the nature around us.
It also reflects our soul and spirit.
So, as an architect, I don't think
in the future we should repeat those soulless matchboxes anymore.
I think what I'm looking for is the opportunity
to create a future
with harmony in between humans and nature.
Thank you very much.
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【TED】Ma Yansong: Urban architecture inspired by mountains, clouds and volcanoes (Urban architecture inspired by mountains, clouds and volcanoes | Ma Yansong)

226 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on November 30, 2019
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