MADs proposal for a new cultural center in Zhuhai is unveiled showcasing a conservationist approach to Urban Development

Zhuhai Cultural Arts Center by MAD Architects

Plans for a proposed cultural center in China’s southern Guangdong region have been released as MAD becomes the latest to enter its name in a competition for an urban renewal project that is equal parts conservation and inspiration, leaving intact the historic past while keeping an eye on the region’s glittering future.

Dominated by a massive floating dome, the studio’s vision for a new cultural arts center covers a centuries-old coastal village located on a peninsula on the northern tip of Zhuhai, the country’s most livable city

Zhuhai Cultural Arts Center model, by MAD Architects

The dome’s structure is comprised of a cable membrane layered over the village’s former plaza and a plethora of scattered small-scale buildings meant to preserve some of the original charm lost to the massive development boom that followed its designation as a Special Economic Zone in 1980.

Urban renewal in China, especially in historic districts, should be preserved, revived, and re-created, instead of being completely wiped out and rebuilt over.” – Ma Yangsong

MAD founder Ma Yansong is known for his thoughtful approach to density concerns, one the firm believes is reflected by their careful consideration not to alter or raze Yinkeng Village’s original layout and function as a public space.

“Urban renewal in China, especially in historic districts, should be preserved, revived, and re-created, instead of being completely wiped out and rebuilt over,” Yansong said in a statement on MAD’s website.

Previously on Archinect: A new nature: Interview with Ma Yansong of MAD Architecture

Elements like the preservation of a revered 500-year-old Banyan tree combine with the metaphoric protection offered by the retractable roof to give the center a safeguarding character. A focus on local history center its function as a memory site as the incorporation of nature combines to form an intrinsically walkable space, making it a perfect example of the blended design strategy Yansong has established a reputation for over the past decade.

“Without ‘people’, there can be no continuation of culture and civilization.” the studio said. “We should focus our attention back on history, and the extension of our existing cultures. We must avoid the cultural fault lines, so that people, nature, the past, and the future can coexist in a harmonious world.”

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