Office Introduction


MLA+ and its founders have more than 25 years of experience facing uniquely urban challenges and finding solutions for today's complex cities.

As architects, urban planners and strategic consultants, we understand the value of working between disciplines.

We utilize the strengths within our team and our broader network to create future-focused solutions that benefit all parties involved. We help our private and public clients navigate complex projects by evolving designs to meet their needs. Our process allows us to achieve results that deliver the highest standard of quality in design and development.


    Project: Water as Leverage in Semarang


    The MLA+ consortium, consisting of MLA+, FABRICations, Deltares, Witteveen+Bos Indonesia, UNISSULA, Universitas Diponegoro and IDN Liveable Cities, was selected for the final phase of the Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities: Asia competition.

    Cascading Semarang proposes five conceptual solutions to tackle water issues in Semarang (Central Java, Indonesia): Spongy Mountain Terraces, Rechannelling the City, Feeding the Industry (preventing excessive groundwater extraction),

    Recharging the Aquifer, and Micro-interventions (upscaling of small local interventions). For each solution, the team proposes a pilot area in Semarang to test the conceptual design.

    Cascading Semarang Phase II Report - Steps to Inclusive Growth | PDF in English

    © MLA+ | SZDW

      Social-Cultural Goals for Water as Leverage in Semarang


      The team worked with stakeholders to identify and link existing challenges to available technologies, strategies and funding sources for social and cultural resilience.

      The proposal focuses on social-cultural connection and resilience as fundamental goals. The team promotes healthy living by harvesting and cleaning rainwater for drinking supplies, and reengergizes public space in Semarang by utilizing the energy of markets and the spirit of the community in design. They also sought ways to stimulate the local economy, provide employment opportunities and support local education.

      Material flows were also analyzed, and links between waste products, building materials and structural improvements were identified. For example, roof spaces were identified as space for energy generation and water collection.

      Overall, the team has been creative in considering holistic solutions that embrace these challenges as opportunities to increase resilience and protect the vibrant communities of Semarang.

      © MLA+ | SZDW

        Project: Xiaomeisha Coastal Zone in Shenzhen


        The MLA+ team has been declared the winner of the competition for the detailed planning of the Xiaomeisha Coastal Zone in Shenzhen, China.

        The team's winning proposal consisted of three parts that address key development issues for Xiaomeisha’s beachfront area:

        1. Reconnecting the mountains with the sea
        2. Designing for a holistic and resilient environment
        3. Development of a thriving and economically viable beach resort

        These fundamental topics are addressed in the unique proposal, which uses nature as a tool and driver for development.

        This "Nature as Leverage"approach seeks opportunities to deliver additional co-benefits through conscious design for people and ecosystems in the Shenzhen area. In accordance with these principles, the new beachfront has been designed to respect the unique marine environment while allowing visitors to experience it in a way that balances leisure and nature.

        MLA+ website

        © MLA+ | SZDW

          Strategies for the Xiaomeisha Coastal Zone in Shenzhen


          Strategies used to design the new Xiaomeisha Coastal Zone in Shenzhen are in line with a new integrated Coastal Management System.

          Reconnection: Connections between ecological systems are made again. Green corridors can be used by animals and serve as quality outdoor spaces for recreation. A water system improves the natural infiltration and retention capacity of the landscape, greatly reducing the risk of flooding from heavy rainfall and adding new spatial qualities to Xiaomeisha.

          Rebalance: Increased tourism can become a threat to nature. Therefore, the plan concentrates areas for public access in a few locations and limits it elsewhere.

          A beachfront dike houses amenities and serves as the last line of defense against coastal surge. A maritime observation center explains marine life to visitors, who can take an unintrusive look underneath the water surface through an underwater window feature. Natural processes and mechanisms are used to further protect the coast: sand nourishment and a new artificial reef both offer protection from destructive waves.

          Revival: The measures to reconnect and rebalance are designed to help revive the neighborhood of Xiaomeisha. In addition, a new transportation hub reduces the impact from cars, a new cable car connects the resort with the mountains, and a new village center brings the streets back to life.

          © MLA+ | SZDW

            Linking Mechanisms for Xiaomeisha Coastal Zone in Shenzhen

            MLA+, RSD & COLLIERS

            The primary linking mechanisms used in this project are divided into three categories: 1) connecting the mountains, the city and the sea, 2) Resilient Coast, and 3) Tourist and operation guidance.

            © MLA+ | SZDW

              Connecting the Mountains, the City and the Sea


              Future plans in Xiaomeisha will promote the sustainable development of the marine economy.

              This will be achieved by ensuring quality and efficiency in design and development practices, recycling materials and protecting local ecosystems, promoting the sustainable use of marine resources, and coordinating the development of the marine economy with initiatives in other economic sectors (entertainment, tourism, culture, sports, creative and other industries).

              The team's design emphasizes innovation of the land-sea connection. The proposal recommends that Xiaomeisha utilize its coastal zone in consideration of future needs through an integrated Coastal Management System.

              © MLA+ | SZDW

                Resilient Coast


                For more than 100 years, the people of Shenzhen have longed for a connection to be reestablished between the city and the sea.

                However, growing population density, climate change and future resilience concerns have made coastal areas risky for development. Rather than creating a hard infrastrucural defense system, the design relies on the protective capacity of the local ecosystems of Xiaomeisha along the coast.

                Flexible measures like sand nourishment and beach conservation are designed to provide nature-based protection while offering beach access to local communities. Multi-layered beach trails, piers and adaptive finishes are installed to protect against large waves and storm surge.

                © MLA+ | SZDW

                  Tourist and Operation Guidance


                  Visitors to Xiaomeisha will be invited to explore adventures in time and space, swim in the tidal waters, walk on beach trails, and enjoy the majesty of the coastline.

                  In the Underwater Time Museum, 3D-printed Shenzhen elements and a Meisha Beacon welcome visitors to a mysterious underwater world.

                  A holographic projection presents real-time marine environmental data and advertises event recommendations at the Meisha Tower, which can be read from far away by residents of Xiaomeisha. The Aquatic Organic Coral Inn is a place away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where visitors can enjoy a delicious floating dinner!

                  © MLA+ | SZDW

                    A Note from the Associate Director


                    "When it comes to Shenzhen, “Shenzhen Speed” is always the first thing people think of, while “Shenzhen Life” and “Shenzhen Beach” are hardly considered.

                    We hope that Xiaomeisha's incorporation of these important keywords can revive the gentle and romantic side of the "Shenzhen Spirit". In doing so, we are seeking to find a little leisure in the speediness, and a bit of calm in the efficiency. Xiaomeisha will represent the unique marine culture of Shenzhen and continue to support the citizens of Shenzhen in the pursuit of their dreams.

                    The vision of "multi-habitat space inhabited by mountains and the sea" is based on strengthening the links between the mountains, the city and the sea. Development in and between these regions is in focus, as are the "small but delicate" patterns of interaction between the mountain landscape and the sea at the city's edge. The organization of transit systems and flow of people and goods throughout the city are especially important in creating a comfortable experience for residents and tourists alike.

                    Other fundamental goals of this project are to increase resilience and ecological security by establishing a balance between nature and society. Restoration projects in mountain zones and coastal habitats will be undertaken in combination with ecological disaster prevention systems. The project will produce resilient bays and build resilient coasts using a combination of hard infrastructure and soft nature-based elements.

                    Revival is the Xiaomei Sha playbook. The five routes enrich the "mountain, sea and city" philosophy by recognizing the value of environmental protection, identifying opportunities to integrate technology and natural systems, and enhancing public participation and good governance through partnerships such as Yantian Carbon Coin. Overall, we seek to foster interactive and trusted relationships through the development of this project.”

                    ——Ruizhi Cao Associate Director China

                    © MLA+ | SZDW