For the past three decades, China has been furiously turning farmland into instant cities, transforming a heavily agrarian society into one with nearly 64 percent of its population now urbanized. In recent years, though, affluent Chinese have started to rediscover their culture’s deep roots in the countryside and the lure of the nation’s often dramatic landscapes. Architects like Ma Yansong, who founded MAD Architects in Beijing in 2004, are now busy exploring new ways of connecting the constructed environment to the natural one. Ma often talks of his notions of shanshui culture, referring to the Chinese words for “mountain” and “water” and to design inspired by a reverence for earth and sky. Yet his approach is anything but traditional. Instead, it aims to reinvent nature—for example, crafting an opera house in Harbin to look as if it were sculpted by wind and water and calling a 5 million-square-foot residential complex in Beihai with rolling roofs Fake Hills.