A series of exaggerated and peculiar architectural designs released by a group called MAD Ltd. recently aroused controversy on the Internet. Most Chinese netizens expressed skepticism and opposition, being of the view that China should not serve as a laboratory for foreign architects.
On the drawings released by MAD, a group of huge buildings is set in terraced fields. The shapes of the buildings are exaggerated and peculiar, twisted, deformed or tilted.
According to MAD, the company organized an urban experiment and invited 11 young international architects to carry out the following task: design the Huaxi city center of Guiyang in southwestern China, titled "Huaxi Urban Nature". Apart from MAD and HouLiang Architecture (HLA), the rest on the list of architects were all foreign design firms. MAD brought these young architects together in Huaxi in the summer of 2008 for a 3-day workshop to create an experimental urban vision for Huaxi.
Chinese netizens' opposition and doubt
Some netizens said they liked the designs very much, and held that architecture shouldn't be square. However a larger number of netizens, including building professionals, expressed their opposition and doubts.
The affair recalls controversies surrounding the new CCTV tower, the National Grand Theater and "Bird's Nest". All share two features in common – that Chinese architects failed to win the right to design these landmark buildings in competition with foreign firms, and all of foreigners' designs are exaggerated, peculiar, and designed to shock.
"Huaxi is famous for its dramatic, beautiful, and truly natural landscape. We strongly protest at this so-called Huaxi Urban Nature project," said a net user from Guiyang.
Another netizen in Guiyang said: "I can't see any connection between these buildings and nature. I think that if these exaggerated, peculiar buildings were set up in terraced fields, it would destroy the ecological landscape of Huaxi."
An architect from Shanghai, Yue Jian said, "From this group of designs, we can see that these 11 international architects didn't understand Huaxi at all. You can't get to know local culture and building styles within 3 days."
According to some building professionals, the stranger the shape of a piece of architecture, the more expensive its cost, which contravenes architectural ethics.