Chinese architect Ma Yansong has taken the West by storm with his organic, futuristic creations. With proposals to cover Tianenmen Square in thick forest and build a floating city over Ground Zero, no one can accuse him of playing it safe.
Over the last decade, avant-garde European architects have helped reshape Beijing's skyline. Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren's surreal CCTV tower and the futuristic, glowing Olympic Stadium conceived by the Swiss studio Herzog and de Meuron are just two of these new iconic Western imports. But now, a Chinese architect is reversing the trend. Rising star Ma Yansong has won a string of European architectural contests that will bring his experimental designs, which meld cutting-edge technology with an animist's awe of nature, to capitals on the Continent.
In a contest staged by the city of Paris to design a housing complex on the right bank of the River Seine, Ma and his firm, MAD architects, faced off against 95 architects from around the world to seize one of the coveted positions. In Rome, he took first place in a competition to redesign a residence near the gardens and galleries of the Villa Borghese. With both projects set to be launched in 2014, Ma was then invited to outline a master plan for a massive 200,000-square-meter commercial and retail project in Amsterdam's Zuidas business district.