ORDOS 100 #34: NU architectuuratelier

This villa is located in plot #28 of the ORDOS project.

Architects: NU architectuuratelier
Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia,
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.

Cite: Saieh, Nico. "ORDOS 100 #34: NU architectuuratelier" 09 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=18433>
  • bolongo

    I like the cross shaped diagram they started with much better, than what they made out of it in the end, … also it seems as if there is much more earth removed than is put back on the lot, as the stripy diagram suggests…. could have been much better.

  • http://www.talkitect.com Lucas Gray

    I like it. Perhaps the best Ordos House I have seen. The fact they are designing with models instead of getting lost in the digisphere is refreshing. I also like how it relates to the history of the building culture in that part of the world. Too many of these projects completely ignore context and culture.

  • Balkan

    At the end this Ordos project will look like new LAS VEGAS in it’s bad manner. Mix of everything, mostly designed buildings(except very few interesting projects) looking like cakes on plate and completely ignoring context. Just a waste of fund and ruining nature.

  • cheese


  • http://twitter.com/laflures/status/1485779863 Paul Buckley

    ORDOS 100 #34: NU architectuuratelier http://shortna.me/b9205

  • bolongo

    as the title odros 100 says it is 100 houses from 100 designers ;) cheese

  • Gravy

    Why not bore down to the center of the earth and build your house there? Build your house with molten rock people.

  • http://escripto.wordpress.com sisifo

    nice nuclear shelter. i like it . but… i dont know. it makes me think of some kind of mental illness of the people living there after one year. too deep. too deep

  • Rafael

    No. Not at all.

    Seems like the main criticism on this site is about shape and appearance. However, that is not architecture. Who will live in this fairytale?

  • booyasha

    Won’t the sand just fill up the void over time? Interesting design, but looks impractical. I do like the models and the ancient Chinese people in the renderings for effect.

  • vasstath

    Impressing design. Verry relevant, in away, to the Amphitheater House, published two weeks ago. True architecture.

  • claude.mallia

    thank god for this global recession! we wont see much bull for long!

  • chicago_g

    Cheese, you are not the only one… this ordos thing is so annoying. the whole thing, 100 houses designed by 100 invited designers, is irrelevent architecture. i am wondering does every one of those designers understand the location, the people, the life style, the weather?…. or does aiweiwei pay the site investigation for architects? and who will live in such buildings? distorted architect’s ego!!!

  • Francisco Pardo Téllez

    La idea de excavar parece atractiva, sin embargo no se indican condiciones de implantación, no existe indicación de vientos, no se sabe como es la asoleación en verano o en invierno y el patio debe implicar un alto costo de mantenimiento.
    No me convencio el proyecto

  • http://twitter.com/wakomo/status/1491113022 Anne Bandholz

    The concept of underground houses is really cool to me. http://tinyurl.com/dgtpx6

  • http://celestekorthase@yahoo.com celeste

    I think the concept of the home shown on top is amazing. I don’t know why we aren’t building more like this. new laws in california have homes built with open space all around and no longer built into hills…or into earth. energy saved

  • http://twitter.com/lukas_sparks/status/1495623616 Lukas Sparks

    RT @Mike_Brenner: underground architecture – http://jijr.com/hf6A

  • sanura

    Ordos 100 will be dead museum of architecture!

  • archdork

    I understand why some of you feel annoyed to see ordos 100 projects. like most of new development project in the world, this is what the client wants. (plus, yes, almost all of them out of 100 offices, have been to the site) I think it is exciting to see different design and their tactic from various architects office all around the world.

    so people, lighten up.

    And cheese, the answer is yes, they are going to build them as soon as all architects finalize their developement.

  • Pingback: NU architectuuratelier « *&$(”!@

  • http://twitter.com/drinn/status/1528265908 Antti Paasivaara

    http://tinyurl.com/dgtpx6 NU architectuuratelier designed an underground villa

  • http://twitter.com/axelvans/status/4423716112 Axel Vansteenkiste

    Ordos #34 by Belgian NU Architecten http://bit.ly/25zEgl

  • http://- Buppy

    Maybe the only project which is a rely to the context of the desert situation!

  • http://josephiklein.com josephiklein.com

    google pueblo indians its been done