University of Michigan - Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Construction II
Critic: Nahyun Hwang
Year: 2013

Collaborator: Molly Allfather
Case Study: MADA S.P.A.M Fathers House + MADA Flagship Proposal

Quingyun Ma, founder of MADA s.p.a.m (strategy, planning, architecture, media) designed and built Father’s House for his Father, Peijie Ma, in his homeland of Jade Valley where the Quinling Mountains meet the Bahe River. Father’s house is designed with primary structure of in-situ reinforced concrete, which becomes a way for Ma to “integrate engineering design, craft, spatial expression, and materiality”(Quingyun Ma, The State of Concrete). This primary structure allows the envelope of the entire building to fill in the open framework without acting as supporting structure, leading to walls of glass, river rock, and bamboo. The primary structure also provides a stable syntax of concrete throughout the entire design, which allows the other materials used in the envelope to play off variable semantics and therefore heightening the awareness of local material usage.

The proportions throughout Fathers house remain within a rhythm of ABC, A being the longest at 20’ B being the middle ground at 14 ‘ and C being the smallest at 4’. The façade and structure both fit within this proportion system, and are connected via indentations within the concrete structure, which is then fitted with galvanized steel rods/screws and connected to the filler material. The façade thermally separates the house through two layers: the first separator of the shutters which are insulated but are not thermally sound, and the second layer of glass which completely seals the interior from exterior. Acoustically the façade is strong through the benefit of two layers, choosing the heavier and more insulating and soundproof barrier to be the external while leaving the internal layer thin and fragile

The MADA Flagship Store and Offices take structural elements and design strategies from Quingyun Ma’s Father’s House and integrates the design with a more intricate shading system, passive heating and cooling system, and new materiality system. Material choices and assembly methods play a major role in producing the specific translation from design intentions into an aesthetic, functional, and performing assembly The MADA Flagship Store maintains a similar structural system as Father’s House, by using a two-way floor system with reinforced concrete beams and columns, while simultaneously modifying the facade to work as a passive heating and cooling system. It reimagines the original shuttered facade as an adaptable design element that can change depending of the program. The shutters provide more flexibility, by both rotationg and sliding along a track.

The original materials of local bamboo and river rock have been substituted for a Low Iron U Translucent Glass (similar to the material used in the Steven Holl NelsonAtkins Museum of Art), which provides privacy yet natural light to enter the interior. The materiality of the Low Iron U Transcluscent Glass also relates to the overall narrative of the design by creating a seemingly transparent relationship between the building and the sidewalk and the interior and the exterior.

The double layered facade mimics the original Father's House design, highlighting the overall design intention of a blurring between interior and exterior. The facade and the atrium act congruently in pushing the notion of an extended threshold through the application of the exterior shutter material on the interior of the open atrium, as well as the choreographed series of entryways. Proportions are also played with in the MADA Flagship Store, as horizontal and vertical dimensions are dramatically stretched, however, without the presence of furniture, people, or anything that would give the building scale, the proportions of the facade seem reasonable.

© Carly Gertler 2017