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Ma Yansong Completes New Project For Aranya Theater Festival

For the second consecutive year, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects has designed an outdoor artist hub for the 2024 Aranya Theater Festival in coastal China. Titled "City of Time," this year's project builds upon the 2023 design, featuring a more open layout with a road flanked by independent settlements. Organic sand piles, circular walls, and sheltered pathways create a scattered sand city, reminiscent of ancient city-states, offering artists and audiences ample open spaces and clear pathways for exploration. This sand city is the setting for the festival's 2024 highlight, the Migratory Bird 300 public art project, where 300 artists live, interact, and create for 300 hours. After the festival, the temporary structures are dismantled, returning the site to its original state.

Ma Yansong and MAD Architects return to the Aranya Theater Festival with a circular open-air sand city, all images courtesy of DONG Image.

Ma Yansong and MAD Architects have crafted a surreal, dreamlike 300-hour experience that blends art with architecture. Designed for the Aranya Theater Festival, the 2024 City of Time encourages visitors to move freely through various settlements in the sand city, experiencing different scenes of daily life at different times. Low walls define spaces while guiding visitors, maintaining openness and fostering discovery. Visual cues assist artists and participants in navigating the city, uncovering new paths and exits, making the City of Time more accessible and encouraging exploration. This layered environment promotes connection and creativity as artists and participants interact, blurring the lines between observer and participant, and encouraging active engagement and imagination.

MAD's design harmonizes natural elements and human creativity. Organic sand sculptures shaped by human hands and rough linen fluttering in the breeze capture observers' imaginations. This environment integrates nature, space, art, and human behavior, capturing unique moments in time. Artists and audiences are invited to explore and create in this collaborative space, forming a seaside utopia that transcends traditional artistic boundaries.


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