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Quzhou Stadium

Exploring Architectural Space

MAD

Quzhou Stadium
By Li Xiangning -

Ma Yansong is a very unique figure in contemporary Chinese architecture. At first glance, his designs reveal an obvious preference for natural, curving, organic forms. Perhaps in response to systems imposing rules and order, he intentionally eschews all right angles or sharp corners, banishing symmetry and all repetitive standardized arrays to opt for rounded forms resembling smooth water-washed or tumbled pebbles. These organic forms are not part of the Chinese Taoist tradition where apparently random elements combine to create a soothing lack of order. Yansong’s creations are held together by a passionate sense of order. The result is work whose stirring formal dynamism, monumentality, ordered rhythm and majestic repetition recall the ancient capital of Beijing: from the smallest, Hutong bubbles rising from a courtyard, to the largest, gigantic constructions suspended over the city’s central axis and its squares. Yansong’s inscrutable, shapeless, floating utopian forms have a unique pertinence to their context even if a radical break with conventional architectural concepts like rational column networks, rectangular planes, and other classical tenets expounded in textbooks and subscribed to by authoritative masters such as Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn or Álvaro Siza.

Ma Yansong’s recently completed Quzhou Stadium marks his further investigation of the relationship between architecture and context. While his recent series of high-rise buildings, including many offices and the Baiziwan social housing complex, took tower construction to the outer edge of monumentality, the Quzhou Stadium presents a completely different kind of gravity. Hugging the ground, even burying into it, the stadium seems a huge land art installation. Both from the ground and air, the building resembles a giant artificial anthill. It prompts the thought that man would be best advised to take the example of ingenious animal structures like the beehive or...

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