It's a MAD world

It's a MAD world

If you think the architects who are constructing this residential apartment block in the coastal city of Beihai in China are mad, you’d be right, quite literally. 

MAD is a Beijing-based design office dedicated to innovation in architectural practice, landscape design and urban planning.

When they, quite rationally, asked themselves, “is it possible to build high-density, economically viable housing which is also architecturally innovative?” ‘Fake Hills’ housing development was the answer. The question was partly posed in retaliation to the masses of cheap and standardised development schemes in China which are created to guarantee developers a quick return.

The design concept for the new apartment bloc, located on a long and narrow piece of waterfront, combines two typologies that define residential developments in China: high rise towers and long, low-rise blocks.

The result, says the MAD team, is a bold new structure, a long slab with an undulating roof and circular openings. 

“The shape has the added bonus of maximising the views of the residents, whilst also becoming a monolithic break between the waterfront and the land behind it.

“The solution is twofold: to cut into the slab, creating a sculpted form which references the shape of the hills that dominate the region's landscape, and to cut openings through the structure, allowing views and light to penetrate the structure. 

“A further reference point is traditional Chinese architecture's intrigue with nature. Rather than sitting the building in a perfect, man-made natural garden, our structure becomes the man-made natural shape itself: fake hills on which the residents can live. The design provides both a high density solution and a new landmark for the city.”

Site Area: 109,203sqm

Building Area: 492,369sqm

Building Height: Slab-106m; Tower-194m

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