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MAD Fish In The City

Cities will pursue "the emotional harmonious relationship between nature and man" in response to " the soul - less machine age". Qian Xuesen (Chinese cybernetics engineer, nuclear scientist and visionary)


We are seeking the living space for fish in the city,

And the conditions of human beings

and the fish have to be inverted:

The fish should dominate.

The space begins to split,

Cubic boxes have melted down.

The collapse of low quality cubic space

Marks the end of the machine era.

The surface

Keeps melting,

The inner and the outer meet in obscurity.

Outer surface of the tube, inner surface of the water,

The fish frolics

On more outer surfaces,

And in more intricate space.

The space saturation keeps increasing.

Air and water change roles,

Concept of inner and outer blurs.

It is all like the internet world,

Which is more open,

Where there are more hopes.

Limitation to the vindication of right is softened.

Contradiction with square boxes

does not signify we are against the mainstream culture,

The civilian own the ideal of mainstream culture,

They deserve more attentions and independence.

Ma Yansong

Fish Tank prototype experiment (USA Architecture League Young Architects Award 2006 Size: 300 (L) x 300 (W) x 400 (H) (mm)

Fish Tank is the quintessential 'prototype'. Designed in 2004, it is a miniature predecessor to the futuristic and sculptural architecture that has emerged from the precociously gifted MAD, an architectural firm with a vision to create a new balance among society, the city and the environment.

Founding partners Ma Yansong (Chinese) and partner Yosuke Hayano (Japanese) have civil engineering and architecture backgrounds and stellar post-graduate credentials from Yale and London. They have bagged a swathe of architectural and design awards since this early experiment.

At the beginning of their meteoric rise to international success they set about to explore form by tracking and analyzing the movement of fish in gravity-free space. The resulting patterns of movement led them to the "edges" of form and the interplay between internal and external space, air and water. It informed their focus on a seamless interconnection between the built and natural environment.

Futuristic, organic and technologically advanced - MAD designs are imbued with a core 'biophilia' sensibility now been realized in a series of major architectural and design commissions in the USA, China and the Middle East, art projects, exhibitions and the publication of their books on their design philosophy.

MAD design philosophy is inspired by Chinese cybernetics engineer, nuclear scientist and visionary Qian Xuesen who was expelled from the USA as a Communist in 1955. Xuesen foreshadowed a post-materialistic age when the design of cities would pursue "the emotional harmonious relationship between nature and man" in response to " the soul-less machine age".

Ma Yansong has composed his own manifesto on Shanshui philosophy.

It goes beyond the impact of nature and explores the individual emotional response to the surrounding world. A Shanshui city, according to Yansong "combines the functionality of urban density with the artistic idealization of natural landscape – one which maintains human spirit and emotion at its core."

Photographs: courtesy of MAD Architecture New York

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