Art/Design, Lifestyle, Living

MAD architects create a Social Housing project

Never seen anything like it.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jul 10, 2022

In its native city of Beijing, MAD Architects unveiled Baiziwan, its very first social housing project. 12 residential towers make up the sprawling development, which is connected by a structure akin to webs made up of a “floating park” and a network of elevated walkways that flow across the site. The project is the result of the studio’s founder Ma Yansong’s 8-year study of social housing, which was particularly focused on the historical evolution and design of social housing across several countries.



Located near the Central Business District of Beijing, the 6 block division organically follows the city’s grid. This model creates an integration in the community by essentially forming a micro-neighborhood in it. A group of Y-shaped structures make up this social housing project, which has 4,000 units and has already attracted 3,000 families.


The stepping geometries collectively imply a novel, mountainous terrain within its urban setting. The interstitial spaces offer small, semi-enclosed zones that foster a sense of community on a human scale throughout the expansive site. When viewed from a distance, the city skyline’s basic white façades and hilly profile looks like the natural form of the land.


The Baiziwan Social Housing project is created as a floating park of communal spaces and outdoor areas. Even though the second level is reserved for residents only, at the street level, the neighborhood is still accessible to the general public. Incorporating a gym, community gardens, a badminton court, a children’s playground, an ecological refuge, and social support services, this elevated park threads between all 6 blocks.


One of the special aspects of this project is that it was mostly fabricated off-site, creating a more environmentally friendly process of building and construction. This actually made the quality of housing better, seeing as each unit was created with a process that was systematized. 2 of the 12 buildings operate with extremely low energy use. In comparison to the other 10 buildings, these two passive structures use 90% less energy and have minimal heating and cooling loads.


In an interview with Fast Company, founder Ma Yansong shared: “Our buildings are very simple. We want to celebrate humanity, we want to celebrate neighborhood, equality, and freedom. The ambition is to set an example that all future developments should consider these issues.”


Check out this live talk with MAD Architects about social housing in China and an interview with founder Ma Yansong here.


In related news, did you know 3D-printed homes can sell for upwards of $450,000?


Photo via Xia Zhi