Dezeen Magazine

MAD proposes conceptual "vertical village" for LA as alternative to sprawl

Chinese firm MAD Architects has proposed a futuristic housing scheme for LA that features sculptural towers wrapped in gardens and connected by sky bridges.

Called Cloud Corridor, the conceptual design calls for nine residential towers that would rise from a single podium.

The development would be located on a 9,000-square-meter site along Museum Row – an area in downtown LA with four major cultural institutions, including the LA County Museum of Art, which Peter Zumthor is redesigning.

MAD conceived the housing scheme for the exhibition, Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles, which is on view at the A+D Museum through 6 November 2015. The exhibition coincides with a boom in architecture projects in LA, with major new buildings by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry.

Cloud Corridor by MAD

The skyscraper scheme represents firm founder Ma Yansong's concept for "shan-shui city", a high-density urban development inspired by traditional Chinese paintings of mountain ranges.

"Cloud Corridor addresses the concern of sprawl in cities and presents a typological alternative: the high-density vertical village," said the studio.

"By reorienting the streets vertically, nine interconnected residential towers redistribute the urban fabric to cohere disparate neighbourhoods into a vertical village with public spaces and gardens in the sky," added the architects.

The complex would rise 167 metres at its highest point. The design "reconsiders modernism's residential tower typology" by integrating elements that emphasise nature, said the firm.

Cloud Corridor by MAD
Cloud Corridor by MAD

The slender, sculptural towers would be wrapped in bands of greenery, with each floor plate having a lush garden. Sky bridges would enable occupants to move between the high-rise buildings.

"Proposed as an urban landmark, Cloud Corridor expresses a devotion to nature," said the firm. "Elevated corridors and multi-level garden patios shape the city skyline and provide viewing platforms for residents to overlook the bustling activity below and the natural landscape beyond."

The towers would be anchored to a ground-level podium that serves as both a public park and transit hub. This base would feature a grassy lawn and trees, with a form that suggests rolling hills.

Cloud Corridor by MAD
Cloud Corridor by MAD

"Simultaneously, the podium lifts away from the ground to reveal both a private-access lobby for tower residents and entry for metro station patrons," said the firm. "Merging infrastructure with nature, Cloud Corridor's podium blurs the boundary between urban landscape and natural scenery."

MAD was founded in 2004 by Chinese architect Ma Yansong and today has offices in Beijing and LA.

Other schemes by the studio that explore ways of fusing urban and natural typologies include a "hilltop village" proposed for a site in Beverly Hills – the firm's first US project – and a project to insert tree-covered terraces into a Rome office block.

Cloud corridor by MAD site plan
Cloud Corridor by MAD