This villa is located in plot #28 of the ORDOS project.
Architects: NU architectuuratelier
Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China
Design year: 2008
Construction year: 2009-2010
Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China
Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, China
Constructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox
A. Design stategy
In Ordos, a desert is turned into a prosperous cityscape. In this reclaimed territory with a hostile climate we are asked to intervene. The program: a house. Our concept: universal need for shelter. Solution: a void.
In order to protect we extract mass instead of adding it. We create a negative, abstract space. This emptiness is the generator of an inverted house which organises itself in a pentagonal loop.
The Sky-house is born.
Hidden for the elements, the house is its own horizon, reflecting itself encircling a sky-well void. In doing this, it creates strong horizontal relations in between the different functions and the imaginative vertical axis. This axis is swallowing the zenith sky with all its varieties and subtle changes (daytime and seasonal).
The house, when seen from the street, is reduced to a thin signal; it is a scar in the landscape. What is visible are mere indications of a cultivated structure. No building is blocking the sight through the transparent garden. Our plot becomes visually part of the greenbelt. A fence indicates the intention of creating a private space, which is ephemeral upon the landscape, yet solid and strong underneath.
The dwelling acquires its identity from its internal space rather than from its external design.
B. Space design
In general all functions are organised around a dug-out courtyard. All functions benefit the ideal orientation and have specific relations to other functions across the courtyard.
A 5-sided (pentagonal) belt is running around this courtyard, passing through some important living areas, framing specific views. The belt is defined by the retaining wall, in which very specific spaces were created to organise Chinese kitchen, vertical circulations, Media room, Library, Office/Lobby…
Along this belt, spaces are differentiated in character, brightness and openness, alternating to the courtyard- or back side. Private rooms are introverted and have ‘specific” relations towards the courtyard and circulation, while more public spaces are extraverted in character. All functions are activated by interesting views and relationships.
As we enter the house, we drive into a cave-like space, arriving directly on the first level underneath the earth surface. From within the car we already catch a glance of the courtyard. “A private world”.
The entrance is related to an office space and lobby. Then, it opens towards the main living space, which has a inclined ceiling inviting to the outside patio At the back, a massive retaining wall carries all serving functions like a kitchen, lounge area, wine cellar, vault…
At the very end of the living area, we find a small door. It leads to a baroque staircase which develops itself from a door size to a 5 meters patio branch.
From this point on, we have arrived on the belt, being able to use it in either directions. The belt brings us to all different atmospheres from sports area to resting or entertaining places and from sleeping places to staff quarters… an endless loop.