The profession needs to learn from past movements including the modernists, the metabolists and deconstructivists, Yansong said, and form movements capable of influencing society.
“Architecture in society today is too collaborative to the commercial world,” Yansong told Dezeen. “We should be more critical and be more visionary.”
After the conference Yansong said that architects had a role to play in solving the big problems facing the world, including climate change and the future of cities, but were failing to find a collective voice to influence the debate.
“I think architects have a major role in being responsible for illustrating what the future could be,” he said. “Because of the very strong political and commercial climate, many architects are trying very hard to solve everyday issues, to respond to the authorities.”
“For sure those are important issues but we have a higher role, to be visionary.”
Yansong said that young architects today often leave their visionary ideas behind when they leave architecture school, when “they have to do very practical things and get jobs.”
Previous generations however organised themselves into movements that had huge influence on the world, he said.
“In the past, young, talented architects worked together to form a strong social agenda and communicate with a larger audience. That’s what today’s architecture community should be.”
Politicians are incapable of taking the brave decisions needed to create a better future, he added.
“In these issues [politicians] cannot be the leaders. Every four or five years they change. They need to hear from architects as visionary people. We need to be brave and tell the politicians what a better future could be. We need architects to be visionaries.”
In 2012, MAD completed the twisting twin Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada – a project Yansong claims to be the first major project by a Chinese architect completed outside China.
Yansong was born in Beijing in 1975. He studied architecture at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture and then Yale School of Architecture, before spending a year working for Zaha Hadid in London. He then returned to China to set up MAD in 2004.
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