Architect Ma Yansong, founder of Chinese firm MAD Architects, has created Timeless Beacon, an art installation made of multicolored fishing nets and reflective films that covers an abandoned Chinese market building. The design renovated Taiping market, known as the largest abandoned building in Taiping Xu, a once bustling fair established in the late Ming Dynasty and flourished for centuries until the 1980s when fishermen, businessmen, and villagers gathered there for trading.
However, the onset of an urbanization boom changed everything, gradually pushing young people to seek opportunities outside the village. Meanwhile, the internet era began overshadowing the need for physical markets, leading to a slow abandonment of the formerly buzzing fair. On the side of Taiping’s deserted streets, concrete houses occasionally interspersed with old brick buildings emerge. There, a couple of elderly residents sit at their doorsteps and chat, painting a picture of a prosperous era that has now gone into decay.
“I see many plants growing towards the sun from the gaps of the abandoned building. We hope to create a sense of vitality and rebirth from the ruins, so that people can feel new energy and perception from the old structure, as well as new understanding of time to this whole area,” explains Ma Yansong.
The quiet village contrasts the contemporary backdrop of a fast-growing city across the river. When the function of the place is no longer important, the emotion and inspiration it carries are the value that is left by the building. MAD intends to parallel the time scales of history and future through design, forming a surreal scene that brings people back to imagination.
A three-story building is wrapped in reflective film, a new material that blurrily mirrors the surrounding old streets through the building’s façade and inner space, respectively. At the top, a towering multimedia light device is enveloped in colorfully delicate pieces of cloth, fluttering in the wind romantically. At night, it transforms into a new “lighthouse” of the village, creating a dreamy aura along the bankside.
Timeless Beacon, the art installation will be on show until the summer of 2024.