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MAD Architects‘ “Silhouette Shanshui” – which lies somewhere between an installation and a model – is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm’s Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.
The Chinese term “shan shui” literally translates to mountains and water, but traditionally, it refers to a style of painting that depicts natural but imagined landscapes. These paintings reflect what the artist sees in their mind, not with their eyes, an idea Yansong believes translates to the development of cities. Just as these paintings reflect an inner dialogue, developing cities should be more cognizant of how the built environment makes its inhabitants feel. “Silhouette Shanshui” examines this concept.