Traditional desert architecture is always characterized as oasis-orientated as it embraces and evolves the unique landscape with the most extraordinary scale.
To produce this kind of design, FRENTE arquitectura and Ai Wei Wei of Fake Design mischievously collaborated. The result was Ordos: a public building planning project located in the Mongolian desert. Engulfed in sand hills, the architects and curator experimented with one hundred different international architecture practices to finally design one hundred villas.
Now five years on the desert line, with its close proximity to Ordos city (the most popular destination for housing complexes & mega-blocks in the bone-dry landscape of China’s Inner Mongolia) it is impossible to ignore it.
From a distance, at a certain angle, it looks like a rectangular levitating home. But up close, it is revealed to be a hidden burial, set into the ground.
Largely, this project is a combination of modern exhibition techniques and architectural performances, which have cleverly created a memorable building. When you slot into the greatness that surrounds you, your design becomes great itself too.
The design fully utilizes a dividing program (underground and floating) and, thus, the ground floor remains at liberty, allowing it to be used as a public space without losing its privacy.
This villa becomes a dream house, with the extension offering incredible sweeping views over the Mongolian desert. Every corner brings its own stunning vista.
Ordos showcases a dual overall design: an introvert/extrovert villa. As a result of the extreme weather, the interiors must remain cool during the hot summer months. Part of the house is completely exposed, so few linger sober during the winter. Consequently, the harsh winter (-20ºC) and summer (+35ºC) weather conditions are neutralized.
In applying this rectangular configuration to its structure, the architects have created a staircase that winds up to all the counter-parts of the building. Under the scheme of its initial proposal, Ordos props up family interaction as well as calling attention to the sense of community. Regarding the artistic nature of this construction and its symbolism, it reflects the idea of proffering a forest within a desert environment. This forest of steel columns also operates as a cover-up for the floating villa’s structure, and gives visitors a perception of intruding in a private area. Furthermore, some of these columns act as solar chimneys, reducing dependence on artificial conditioning systems.
Since its appearance in 2008, the Ordos project has created a somewhat varied debate for its purposes. Even so, the completed project is all about earth, harmony and light. Everything has a reference to its surrounding and there is a symbiotic relationship between the landscape and the building.
Words: Maria Passarivaki
Name of the Project: Tree House (ORDOS / Villa 035) / Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China / Constructed Areas: 998m2 / Year of Design: 2008 / Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd / Curator: Ai Wei Wei / Fake Design / Name of the Office: FRENTE arquitectura