After introducing many interns, gooood writes a special focusing on MAD regular staff and its partners who always keep low-profiled while still attracting attention. Let’s know about their design experiences and real situation. This is We work for MAD Special I-A profile of MAD Associate partner Zhao Wei.
Please introduce yourself.
Zhao Wei: My name is Zhao Wei. I am the associate partner and has worked in MAD for 8 years. I am mainly involved in the concept design stage.
Comparing to the past, what is the biggest difference of MAD? What is MAD’s DNA?
Zhao Wei: When I started working in MAD, the studio had only five employees. At that time we worked very fast as we were doing quite a lot uncertain projects like bidding and indirectly commissioned ones. It started to change after a period of time, as the firm started to be recognized in the industry with more developed works and built projects. And then it started to adapt a more systematic and oriented working pattern. I believe what made MAD what it is today is by its sticking to its own design philosophy and vision, and all the professional team players that’ve been with MAD.
MAD’s DNA is that it can stick to its own design philosophy, make what MAD wants happened. This is way more difficult than doing work that just meeting requirements and routines. At the very beginning, we must define our starting point and integrate sentiments into the design, only that way can we create something with a soul and sentiments.
You’ve been with MAD for eight years. Why didn’t join other companies?
Zhao Wei: I did change my job before.
Then why did you come back?
Zhao Wei: I left MAD to start my own business in 2008. At that time the clients simply just wanted us to change renderings into construction plans or create renderings based on photos. This huge gap between expectation and reality made me realized I could not do my own design, or to say to meet my goal in design. And after rounds and rounds of consideration, I decide to return to MAD because MAD is the best platform for me to realize my dream in design.
You have worked such a long time in MAD, which colleague impressed you most? Why?
Zhao Wei: I think it’s you.
Why? (Note: Xiangling, the interviewer, has worked in MAD office for three years as an architect. After leaving MAD she dedicated full time to “gooood”. She is the founder and chief editor of “gooood”.)
Zhao Wei: I remember the time when we did a project together. We were trying to have a design that can represent Chinese artistic conception. Then was the very beginning of MAD’s exploration of this kind of design. Everyone was experimenting with their own approach. You were responsible for a house which is surrounded by a lot of pine trees. At the end, you captured the right feeling of the house. I was like “Wow. This girl can do it.” You always keep a low profile at work, but you have something in your mind, something really valuable. Later I heard when you were in the construction site of Ordos museum, the workers there did not follow the plans. You were so emotional and yelled at the workers: “If you keep building it this way you have to bury me first.” That was you, right?
How many projects have you participated in MAD? What are most impressive ones to you? Why?
Zhao Wei: Too many projects for these 8 years. The most impressive one I think is the now completed Conrad hotel in Beijing. Our concept was to build something that with spirits and soul, like a church in the CBD area. You know CBD is full of all kinds of tall vertical buildings. We envisioned this building to stand out on Third Ring Road. After negotiations with the client, I worked with Ma to adjust the design. It was not very difficult. We adjusted only one part on the design, and it came out a design that we can see multi-level conversations with the city. Sometimes it’s not that complicated as we thought, as long as we find out the fundamental point and further develop it.
Another project is Pingtan Museum. The museum itself is on an artificial island. In the beginning we set the path for the design to be of both futuristic and oriental elements. After trying for different options, we decided to have it as an organic object floating on the sea that could represent both futuristic, sci-fi but as well oriental feelings. That is what we want.
What’s your thought to architectures in China?
Zhao Wei: The time for bulk production is gone, just like the time has shifted from simple bulk production to custom tailor-made, which is more high-end, exquisite and exclusive. You can also understand it as the time for those architecture websites copying gooood is going to end. In architecture industry, products from planned economy is declining. Plagiarized and cheap products are going to fail. The future belongs to those intricate and custom tailor-made products.
Can you share with us your hobbies?
Zhao Wei: Recently, I am looking into those ancient imperial gardens in China, as well as some private gardens in Suzhou. I realized that the reasons why these gardens can be admired by so many generations because people can find emotional echoes in these gardens. If you look into those ancient paintings, you can feel the perfect combination of nature and architecture. Each detail can stand up to scrutiny. If these can be built, it’d mean huge success for architects as it required the architects to have strong abilities in controlling the site and different levels and layers. I am fascinated by how ancient people dealt with the context, and how they controlled the context through a poem. The vision delivered in these paintings in some way come from people’s hope for their emotional well-being.
Who is your favorite architect and why?
Zhao Wei: When I first started architectural design I admired many architects, like Louis Kahn. And I tried to understand their states of mind in architecture through their publications and works. But for sure I looked into different things as my work went on, like what I mentioned earlier about my recent interests in ancient gardens and paintings.
So you like the ancient age and the society back then, right?
Zhao Wei: I think so. Nature and architectures coexist in harmony, that’s what ancient people pay attention to. However, this is exactly what we are lack of today. Architectures have no particular inner relations with humans. Of course I’m not saying we need to return to these ancient ideas, but much about we need to combine both modern spirit and traditional oriental culture, to find out our own design DNA.
Please give your boss a suggestion or ask a question.
Zhao Wei: Ma, please spare some time for exercises.
康莱德酒店 CONRAD HOTEL
Doors opened to the Beijing Conrad Hotel at the end of 2013 Through its unique built form MAD proposes a new conceptual possibility. “Living architecture” seeks to embeds itself within the fabric of the rectilinear city much as a plant rises through the crack of a concrete sidewalk.
This platinum five-star hotel sits at a busy corner at the east 3rd ring road of CBD district; it is the most modernized district in Beijing. The exterior facade is a neural network that reacts to the interior grid structure. The softly undulating surface expresses the organic vitality of man-made structure. It moves sinuously as it reaches towards the sky. MAD’s design represents the subtle invasion of nature into our built landscape, softening the rigidity of efficient and anonymous structures. To the south of the hotel lies a rare piece of serene nature, the Tuanjiehu Park. The Conrad Hotel serves as a transition between this natural paradise and an otherwise urban and built-up terrain. The mutation of the form breaks the monotony of the city, adding fresh energy and raising the expectation of what one can hope for urbanity.
With its changing curves, the window openings shape the rooms into bright and soft caves. Being in the space, people not only experience the protection that architecture naturally provides, but it is as if they are in a silvery future world. From here, you overlook the city from the eyes of future, surveying at the past that set in the various styles of architectures.
设计团队: Flora Lee, 赵伟，刘亦昕, Yuteki Dozono, 谢怡邦, Gabrielle Marcoux, Uli Queisser, 唐柳, Art Terry, Rasmus Palmqvist, Diego Perez, Alan Kwan, Helen Li, Albert Schrurs, Simon Lee, Dustin Harris, Bryan Oknyansky, Andy Chang, Matthias Helmreich, 黄伟, Howard Kim
室内设计师: Lim.Teo + Wilkes Design Works Pte Ltd
Type: Platinum Five-star hotel
Site Area: 7,779 sqm
Building Area: 56,994 sqm
Building Height: 106 m
Director in Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun
Design Team: Liu Yixin, Zhao Wei, Flora Lee, Yuteki Dozono, Paul, Tse Yi Pong, Gabrielle Marcoux, Uli, Queisser, Tang Liu, Art Terry, Rasmus Palmqvist, Diego Perez, Alan Kwan, Helen Li, Albert Schrurs, Simon Lee, Dustin Harris, Bryan Oknyansky, Andy Chang, Matthias Helmreich, Huang Wei, Howard Kim
Hotel Architect: Metamax
Structural Engineer: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD)
Mechanical Engineer: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD)
Façade/Cladding consultant: King General Engineering, SuP Ingenieure GmbH
Interior Designer: Lim. Teo + Wikes Design Works Pte Ltd.
Landscape Designer: Earthasia Design Group
Photo by: Xia Zhi
平潭艺术博物馆 In progress : Pingtan Art Museum
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction Preparation Phase
Pingtan Art Museum, the third museum design by MAD Architects, has just begun its construction preparation phase. It will be the largest private museum in Asia, which acts as a smaller scale island off the Pingtan Island itself, forming a harmonious capacious space with the mountains in the distance.
设计团队:赵伟，黄伟，刘建生，Jei Kim，李健，李广崇，Alexandre Sadeghi
Location: Pingtan, China
Site Area: 32,000 sqm
Building Area: 40,000 sqm
Director in Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Design Team: Zhao Wei, Huang Wei, Liu Jiansheng, Jei Kim, Li Jian, Li Guangchong,
Pingtan Art Museum, the third museum design by MAD Architects, has just begun its construction preparation phase. It will be the largest private museum in Asia, claiming a construction area of over 40,000 square meters. The museum’s investments total around 800 million RMB and upon completion, its debut exhibition will display over a thousand pieces of national treasures.
Being the largest island in the Fujian province, Pingtan is also the Chinese island nearest to Taiwan. In 2010, the ‘Comprehensive Experimental Zone’ project in Pingtan was officially launched; the island is expected to become the primary location for trade and cultural communication between Taiwan and the mainland in the foreseeable future. The island, which is currently home to fisheries and a military base, will quickly be transformed into an large-scale urban development zone.
This new city, which is still under planning, will hold the museum at its center. The museum itself acts as a smaller scale island off the Pingtan Island itself, connected to land only by a slightly undulating pier, which, in turn, bridges artificial and natural, city and culture, as well as history and future. The museum represents a long-lasting earthscape in water and is a symbol of the island in ancient times, with each island containing a mountain beneath it.
The island is firstly a public space that is then turned into a museum. The sea, the beach, the oasis and the slope all interconnect with each other, forming a harmonious capacious space with the mountains in the distance. The building is constructed with concrete that is blended with local sand shells. The indoor space, formed by the rise and fall of the formal movements, looks similar to ancient caves.
Pingtan Art Museum is built in a landscape setting of an urban city. After its completion, it will create a new space for the city and the city’s inhabitants and further inspire them to reflect on the impact made by time and nature.