When developer Wang Weixian commissioned MAD Architects to design a large-scale residential complex in Huangshan, a mountain region and UNESCO Heritage Site 250 miles southwest of Shanghai, he wanted to steer clear of the typical urban highrise. “It’s very hard to argue that a development like this can coexist with nature,” says MAD founding principal Ma Yansong. “That was the main challenge of this project.” The design, a cluster of 10 undulating concrete buildings ranging from five to 21 stories, both mimics the landscape and brings residents closer to it. “The goal was to make multiple levels that look like the surrounding terraced tea fields, so that the architecture fits in,” says Ma. Each of the 859 units is set back, allowing for individual balconies that overlook the lush setting, while bridges connecting the towers also provide platforms to view the outdoors. The result is not about “functioning as a machine for living,” says the architect. “The attitude and the atmosphere are what’s important.”