This villa is located in plot #35 of the ORDOS project.

Architects: FRENTE / Juan Pablo Maza
Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia,
Design year: 2008
Construction year: 2009
Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China
Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China
Constructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox

concept diagrams

The immediate context drove the decision of designing an introvert villa. As a result of the extreme weather, it has been chosen to bury the house taking advantage of the generosity of underground temperatures and therefore neutralizing the harsh winter and summer weather conditions.

On the other hand, realizing the good weather during spring and autumn times, the villa responds to this duality by leaving a part of the construction completely exposed, and therefore completely extrovert. This way, the villa celebrates the duality of an introvert-extrovert house.

section 02

By taking advantage of the apparent duplicity of the required areas, eighty percent of the program has been maintained in a “big villa” (buried), which lives around an internal courtyard, in a scheme that promotes family interaction and emphasizes the sence of community. The duplicate program is separated and put into a mass equals to the size of the courtyard, thus creating a private “small villa” (floating) which gains the views and gives any family member the opportunity of temporal isolation.

By dividing the program (underground and floating), the ground floor is freed allowing it to be used as public space without loosing privacy.

The main landscape idea, is to suggest a forest within a desert environment. This forest is made out of steel columns that act as “camouflage” for the floating villa’s structure, and also gives the visitors a consciousness of trespassing private area.

Cite: Saieh, Nico. "ORDOS 100 #26: FRENTE" 12 Mar 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=16355>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    it’s the first time i have seen a project that is absolutely ‘poetic’ in that ‘ordos100 project’.

    Thank you FRENTE for your fabulus work!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    2ой нормальный проект Ордос, и первый который нравиться!

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I feel like I am taking crazy pills here. This “thing” is shamelessly ridiculous. If you want poetry, read Unamuno or Borges. Someone could commit suicide living in such a state of absurdity day and night.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Bernie, I agree completely, this house is ridiculous. It seems the west has succeeded in exporting the worst of it’s architectural ideas to the east. Bravo. Why have ONE ridiculously large house when you can have TWO… so neatly connected by a curvy stair. There is nothing “cerebral” about this house unless you’re really into resource inefficiency. Horrible.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    in 10 years, people will wander around this architectural zoo and wonder what the hell happened in 2009.

    it’s an exhibition of some of the worst non site specific, banal architecture i have ever seen.

    can you imagine living here?

    it is abysmal

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    You said: “steel columns that act as “camouflage” for the floating villa’s structure”

    I say: What villa? I couldn’t even see it through those dense columns. Someone pass me a machete, and I’ll see if I can clear a path….

    The remarkable thing is that clients still buy into this BS. That in itself is quite a charming anachronism, I suppose?

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    well,it really looks nice when there’s on other buildings aronud it.
    i’d like to see the site plan first.
    architecture will not be itself when it took out of the surroundings.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Some seem to forget that beauty is also part of architecture. I enjoy this project, as said before, very poetic. And if you’re saying the columns are not necessary, please stop doing architecture.
    I also believe that context is not necessary an issue in this case. Although I’m against the Ordos project in general, which is a complete disgrace for the architect profession.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Beauty is completely subjective. My conception of a beautiful house is one that responds to the needs of it’s inhabitants and functions efficiently. Therefore, I find this project “ugly,” especially the non-structural columns. People should not give up the profession if they don’t agree with your sense of beauty, boppie.

    I also believe that context is always an issue, unless you live in a vacuum.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Boppie, I’m glad we don’t agree in Architectural terms and I can see that I’m not the only one. Can anybody imagine living in a house full of steel columns instead a garden or a pool or just nothing around? I can’t.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Haha. Reviewing my own comment, I need to say I probably don’t agree with it myself and should have been less aggressive.
    The columns are essential to the project, in my believe. Without these extra columns the concept would have been way less strong. By adding the extra columns the architect suggests there are no columns at all.
    The problem with this Ordos project as a whole is the lack of context. I agree that context should always be an issue, but within this collection of icons the context could be a less important factor.
    I find the Ordos project a disturbingly arrogant project, made for publicity. In my believe the project had more potential in several ways. But maybe I’m to much an idealist.

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    perfect visual effect. The eye didn’t understand the construction and create the effect of levitation. Maybe it’s not the best idea for living house (threw the house windows it’s better to see trees, not columns :) ) but for public building perfect idea

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    lol at some comments…..hehehe

    Mixed feelings about this one, as it is right now I agree is somehow ridiculous.

    I think that the forest-columns-camouflage idea is lost with that amount of columns, now, if they add three times more columns, it will begin to take shape.

    See Patxi Mangad’s Pabellon de España for the Zaragoza expo:

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think everyone is right. It is beautiful and absurd, new and redundant, a solution and a problem.
    And we are all discussing it, and that justifies it for me.
    No, I could definitely not live there, but I would love to visit, and I am glad to have seen it.
    It can only be worthless if we don’t learn from it.

Share your thoughts