第5期为您奉上的是 马岩松 Ma Yansong
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In 2012, MAD completed two important projects: the Absolute Towers and Ordos Museum. The two projects mark an important milestone in MAD’s growth. The two projects were both conceived 5 years ago, if we were to make a comparison, what kind of changes can we see between these two projects and your current exploration and ideals? Where specifically can we see these changes or growth?
In 2005, we designed Ordos Museum, and the Absolute Towers in the latter half of that year. Actually design ideas have already been accumulating before, maybe since 2003 or 2004. At that time, I had thoughts about how I would design a high-rise in North America, knowing it is clustered with skyscrapers. We were concerned with the social environment at that time just as we are now. Ordos Museum is really a discussion about the role of local culture in modern civilization. Of course, there is also the natural environment, and the humanistic environment, but overall, it is how we look at Mongolian culture in this period of time in history, as a representative of the indigenous culture. The Absolute Towers faces the background of the North American skyscrapers. It is a question of how we would act as Eastern architects entering into this homeland of the skyscrapers. At that time, we thought to criticize the skyscraper as a monument of power and of capitalism. Hence, we reject that phenomenon in our design; therefore, our design is soft and natural. From this departure point, we still have the preoccupation with society, nature, and environment. While the high-rise is more concerned with formal qualities, the museum considers spatial qualities and people’s feelings, in addition to formal qualities. Now, our new projects will have all kinds of different contexts and functions. For example, if there are more architectural clusters that form an urban environment, there will emerge more projects that investigate human under the urban context.After that, we have also designed a project called Hutong Bubble, a very interesting project. The Hutong Bubble is similar to Ordos Museum formally, yet it is situated in a very different environment, and at a different scale. It is a bathroom, a very small project.The small project explores the intimate relationship between history and humankind, perhaps it will come to greater notice in our future designs as small scale representative. At the same time, we will focus on the urban scale, because previously, I have thought that both of these scales are lacking. As you said, a single architectural entity is difficult to bring out the ideals of cities and human experience. Hence, Shanshui City is something that especially interests us. More than being about the formal qualities of a city, Shanshui City is an experience, and an expression of emotions and feelings, which is constructed in a city.
The concept of “Shanshui City” resonates with me and many others. Hence I have two questions that follow, the first concerns the unit scale; how does the concept of “Shanshui City” develop from the scale of a single architectural entity?
“Shanshui City” is a matter of city size, it is an ideal.It is what our future city will be like. Right now, this is a topic rarely brought up, but I believe that a city without ideals cannot last. Currently, I feel that all the cities are identical. While people criticize the metropolis’ lack of uniqueness, they also criticize those unconventional architecture. I feel that this is a contradictory phenomenon; it says that it is wrong to change and wrong to not change. I believe that this conflict is a result of people not knowing alongside a lack of common ideal; we never talk about what kind of cities we want, what kind of future life we aspire to, none of this. That kind of city is like shelves in a shop, it may contain mediocre products or remarkable products. Everyone talks about these products, but it’s not meaningful, for they just judge whether they are good or bad.The thing to consider is that the shelf doesn’t have a soul. At the moment, people want to use the products on the shelves to change the properties of the city: use the so-called iconic architecture or embellish it with a few special, new large-scale projects in attempts to change the city. But it isn’t actually like that. You can see that many traditional cities have already provided the enlightenment. Cities like the old Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, are successful cities with soul and culture; because they have very strong values behind them. However, at present we lack city under developments that still have both unique identity and value.“Shanshui City” addresses these issues; It is a desire to create a modern city based on the union of the artificial and the natural, and concerns itself more with human emotions. What I mean by “human emotions” is that you must
create a holistic environment, and not to separate the architectural, the street, and the public spaces. I think that is how it currently is; I feel that we are creating products, things that generate economic benefits on the store shelves. To regard a city as a holistic environment, I believe, is creation of a value and an ideal. It can happen at any scale, “Shanshui City” is a city, can you say a “Yuanlin” (Chinese landscape garden) is not the realization of “Shanshui City?” Or even just a bonsai on a table. In ancient times, a bonsai and a painting maybe a whole universe to someone.Maybe to someone, it is
already a universe, hence it doesn’t matter the size. Old Beijing is a city that was also created as a garden; this garden may reflect different scales and sizes, even it could be the size of a mega city in the future. This is a thought; rather than a tool for operation. I feel that a single architectural entity is already bigger than a garden, if a garden can have these kind of ideas, then so can architecture.
The second question pertains to the urban scale. Chinese cities are currently building at an insane rate, how does the concept of “Shanshui City” interact and fit in with the current social conditions in China? Also, is “Shanshui City” currently the sole concern in urban concepts? When you are faced with the design in the urban scale, are there other concepts that you are also concerned with?
I believe that all cities are mad. Even when the West built cities like Manhattan and Chicago, it was driven by man’s desire to conquer nature and change nature. It is filled with technology, bragging, self-challenge, and the pursuit of wealth. These aspects can be seen as “evil,” but it was these desires and impulses that created the city. Hence, the idea of “Shanshui City” is about a city’s soul. The city can be complex, chaotic, or pure, but it cannot be soulless. However, the commercial activities in a city, whether prosperous or in decadence, only relate to economy, not ones’ spirit. A city could be a small one or a big one, but one without soul is one without a sense of belonging. It could be a commercial mega-city, such as Las Vegas, but it may still lack a sense of belonging. Therefore, I believe talking about a city’s spiritual qualities does not conflict with its size.
I don’t know if you agree, but I feel that the “Shanshui City” is a very Chinese concept, and you have a very strong foreign education background. What do you believe are the differences between western architecture and Chinese architecture, and how can these two be merged?
ShanShui City is an Eastern concept. In fact, this concept appears in many aspects of the Eastern culture, like in landscape water-color paintings and in gardens. But I see tradition in a different way. Like when we are talking about Ordos Museum, I feel that culture has to keep moving forward, it should never be referred to as a local culture, because the local culture is often a name imposed by the mainstream, which will limit one’s development. Because if you become mainstream, you will be protected. However, I see Oriental Culture in another way. I feel that human civilization is divided into two poles. Our world today is in fact the influence of western culture, because of the industrial revolution, and so on. It is as if all of the modern revolutions have developed the Western classical civilization, logical thinking and western philosophy to our civilizations today, and influence the thinking of people around the world, in terms of life, art, city, etc.I think, people all over the world should be interested in it, at least curious. If the Eastern classical civilizations turn into the future art and city, what would it become? I think it is the business of everyone in the world. There is no such a thing as to say that we want to stick to an oriental civilization. Because Eastern civilization, to tell the truth, is not mine; it belongs to our predecessors. Their achievements created by the predecessors, belongs to all the mankind, so we want to make it a contribution to the future.It has not been inherited or carried forward, but rather the best time is now, because ranging from the Western civilization to the modern society, development has been built on the concept of world conquest and transformation. Man is superior to everything, like the Olympic slogan, “faster, higher, and stronger”. It stresses this spirit, and makes us challenge ourselves, to be faster, higher and stronger. But I think these ideas are not the most difficult pursuit. The most difficult pursuit is to have our own unique ideas and speculative ability. The Olympics embodies Western value. So today I think it is very important for all of humanity to understand the wisdom of the Oriental civilization. Because now the whole human race is faced with a predicament; People transform nature, but do not coexist with the natural, causing a lot of problems. I am very interested in the idea of enlightenment. I strongly believe that traditional Oriental Culture embodies a sense of futurism. This idea captures my interest. I do not believe I’m sticking to traditional culture, or the concept of protecting traditional culture. I don’t believe this culture is mine, so why do I need to stick to it? It originally belongs to all mankind; And all the scholars, intellectuals, designers, whether Chinese or foreign, have a responsibility to inherit this culture.Therefore, I do not want to see this culture being turned into a more cherished treasure or different heritage. With this in mind, we don’t want these symbolic things to appear in our works.
MAD has always been a successful example of the rapid growth of the construction industry in China. What I am curious about is that in MAD’s fast-growing pace, whether you have faced some difficult times. When you are faced with such situations, how do you deal with it?
I think in any industry, any period, everyone will encounter some difficulties. Actually, I think this is part of our work, so we will not be too concerned about this, and it is difficult to pay attention to these so-called difficulties. I think the greatest difficulty is ourselves, how to find ourselves, and how to develop our own ideas. This is a very big challenge.It takes time, like a custom, you cannot become mature in a very short time. The level of maturity, the depth of thought, and the level of courage you have to solve the problem and to develop the idea, have decided whether or not you can achieve such a high level of ideological thinking. This high level of ideological thinking certainly takes a very long time, or it will never come. The so-called pace of development, to me is not so important. In fact, we can now quickly, if willing, become larger, and do more things. But in such case, I find it impossible to have the energy to think.I think under this definition, the success is very simple to reach. Because it is such a commercial era, the success of the business community is based on figures, on the quantity, on your influence. This influence is not ideological influence. I think that this success has its rule, has its way, so that anyone can do it, basically. But this success is not ideological.So I think we have to realize this is long-term work, and not put myself in this position, thinking about the status of our position in China. In fact, the talk about status in China is quite boring, like I just said, how do we see the Chinese traditional culture. Viewpoints are no longer the same today in terms of the open platform of the entire modern civilization.
You mentioned that there is an urgent need in China for something like Le Corbusier’s “Toward a New Architecture “, which has tremendous provocative and thoughtful things.”Towards a New Architecture” makes ordinary people start talking about and paying attention to architecture, and architecture has become a mirror of the times. It is for the ordinary people, for everyone. It is based upon the human.gooood as a media platform also looks forward for such things to happen. Before it happens, gooood also wants to play a part in pushing this process forward. But what it is doing now is not enough. I hope you can help give us some advice.
I think the most important thing for online media is its openness, because in real life, there is not much architectural criticism in China. All are not telling the truth, and the so-called comments are just mere pretention. So fake is our reality. When the physical society is full of lies, the network may become the place for truth. So it is impossible to be given an open environment, and to think in a not civilized or unified way. I believe this is a problem that lies with China. The problem is the lack of credit and courage. As the old saying goes, the first bird to fly is to be shot. People are unwilling to express their true thoughts, causing many negativism and pessimism in Chinese architectural society. When I talk about Le Corbusier, I do not mean that I want to implement modernism, but I feel Le Corbusier’s spirit in that era represents a lot of the great architects whose ideals and passions are to improve society and their actions have very positive impacts. For example, Japan’s Metabolism Movement happens when the society faced some dramatic changes, the architects saw those problems, and then some architects organized and created such a big social impact.Metabolism is also named Asia’s last ideal group activitry organized by architects. Can you see such a scene in China? China does not have such a scenario. China has the largest building and construction activities, but not one ideology nor any academic environment. Of course it may be because that everyone is busy, but it is also the lack of such a discussion, lack of an architect like Le Corbusier with an ideology. I think what the future looks like, does not depend on the ones with authority. Everyone can talk about it but nobody is willing to talk about this topic. Then there is a lack of such people and such thinking in critics and theorists. What does the Design Institution do? They are in a very sad status, they all feel that they have a lot of problems, but I think they have a very good name. The so-called Designand Research Institute is a very futuristic name. They realize that to design, one needs to study. But no one today pays attention to research. So I think Chinese people need to have the courage to put forward their own ideas.If more and more people put forward their ideas and thoughts, even Utopian ideas, there will be discussions. I think China needs to have its own architect with the courage to put forward their own ideas, and this idea will stimulate discussion, even debates, which do not matter. I think this is the way to create an environment, an academic environment which can affect the future. Architects are willing to call themselves scholars. A very important feature of the scholar is to not confront the contradictions of this society, and prefer to escape to the countryside. Such people are opposite to the socialist such as Corbusier. Because we all look forward to the architects’ proposals of the ideal way to improve the society. China, I think, lacks such voices. If architects have called themselves intellectuals, and have their own thoughts, and have even criticized the city today, I think they should actively put forward what their ideal city is. So I think this dialogue will become more and more meaningful.
后记 By 向玲 Xiang Ling