Architect Ma Yansong and his Beijing-based firm MAD Architects’ surreal designs often look as though they come from outer space — and the new masterplan for the Quzhou Sports Campus in China is no different. The massive development just broke ground in the historic Chinese city in Zhejiang province and will bring with it an undulating green landscape with mixed programming. Inspired by the traditional Chinese painting style called ‘shan shui,’ MAD Architects conceived a park-like setting with green roofs draped over buildings to mimic mountains and waterways.

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The first and second phases of the Quzhou Sports Campus will span a little over half of the development’s total size and include a 30,000-seat stadium, a 10,000-seat gymnasium, a 2,000-seat natatorium, a national sports complex, an outdoor sports venue, a science and technology museum, a hotel, a youth center and various retail spaces. The large heft of these buildings will be hidden under an undulating green landscape that the architects liken to an “earth-art landscape in the center of the city — a poetic landscape that falls somewhere between that of Earth and Mars.”

The Quzhou Sports Campus is ringed with a dense forest that hides the martian landscape and adds to its mysterious nature. At the heart of the park is a lake that serves as a sunken garden surrounded by buildings shaped as climbable green mountains. In another example of landscape mimicry, the architects designed the stadium in the likeness of a crater that’s crowned by a translucent cloud-like “halo.” The building interiors will also reinforce a connection to the environment with ample glazing so that visitors always feel as though they are immersed in nature.

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Yansong said, “We dream not only of creating an urban space about sports and ecology but also turning it into a unique land art park for the world, establishing a relationship between the city’s heritage and history of Shanshui culture.”

+ MAD Architects