architects, not architecture (AnA), the platform that invites well-known architects to talk about themselves, rather than their work, is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a ‘virtual world tour’. through this series, AnA brings the architectural community closer together by taking participants on a tour around the globe to visit selected cities and virtually meet some of their most relevant architects.


having previously ‘traveled’ to australia to hear from melbourne-based architects kerstin thompson and john wardle, AnA now checks in with thomas heatherwick and ma yansong — founders of heatherwick studio and MAD architects respectively. as a media partner of the event, designboom brings you the talk, which can be seen in full in the video at the top of this page. watch each architect’s segment, and read more about their talks, below.



thomas heatherwick — talk and interview



thomas heatherwick, the founder of heatherwick studio built his talk around three people who passed away in recent years, but have deeply influenced his studio and the way he works. he starts with sir terence conran, his mentor and ‘one of the people who modernized britian and transformed its landscape’ by making design both accessible and affordable. heatherwick met conran while studying at university and it was from him that he learned ‘how to create an idea and get it to people’.


heatherwick also reminisces about his memories of bill tustin. tustin shared heatherwick’s passion for crafting and inspired him to use the eye of ‘a maker’ to fill the emotional void heatherwick noticed in architecture. the last minutes of the talk were devoted to the architect alan davidson who created photorealistic images ‘to make people understand architecture schemes without giving them complicated drawings’ before it became the norm. in this way he ‘captured the imagination’ of the general public, as well as decision makers, to turn ideas into reality. heatherwick adds that the communication of ideas is essential for architects to be able to work with ‘incredible collaborators who make the journey of making the world around us better a pleasure.’ watch heatherwick’s talk, and interview with AnA’s fermín tribaldos, above.



ma yansong — talk and interview



in his talk, ma yansong, founder and principle of MAD architects, takes us on a journey through his past and his main influences. the chinese architect begins by exploring memories of his childhood in beijing’s old city and shares the ideas he derived from his first experiences of architecture. moreover, he explains how his passion for drawing — as well as chinese painting and contemporary artists — inspired him to combine art and architecture.


ma yansong goes on to discuss how one particular scene from a star wars movie left a profound impression on him and inspired several of his early designs. evidently, this idea of ‘something from outer space landing on earth’ is to be found in some of MAD’s signature designs such as the harbin opera house. the architect also discusses his strong personal influences, starting with zaha hadid — a mentor who introduced him to the art world. ma yansong also expresses his appreciation for bao pao, a chinese artist who ma says helped his studio get a clear understanding of its cultural environment. watch ma yansong’s talk and interview above.



watch both ma yansong and thomas heatherwick in discussion with AnA host fermín tribaldos



watch thomas heatherwick and ma yansong in discussion with AnA host fermín tribaldos above, and stay tuned as architects, not architecture continues with its ‘virtual world tour’ into the new year.