This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.
Architects: Slade Architecture 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
The masterplan proposes an exhibit of very large houses each encircled by a public footpath juxtaposing two conflicting desires: private retreat and public display. We accepted this tension as a primary design challenge. To engage the public view exterior, sightlines and perspectival cues are manipulated to create an engaging object that is ambiguous in its shape and boundaries. This ambiguity works against the clear platonic cube suggested by the masterplan. The private interior courtyard at the center of the house provides a santuary and retreat shielded from public view while allowing edited outward views. This results in a private but open interior.
The massing respects the masterplan envelope. Creating an interior courtyard required building some of the required footprint below grade. Cutting away the ground plane creates two sunken gardens in plane with the lower level interior spaces allows the spaces. The building mass is carved to provide views from the interior courtyard and sunlight into the center of the building.
Reinforcing the site strategies on a programmatic level, the building is organized in layers of increasing privacy. These spaces are arranged in three typologies that are stacked vertically. The individual private spaces are articulated as distinct objects (sleeping). Communal family spaces are arranged around a courtyard (living). Social / public spaces are open to the exterior as an extension of the landscape (entertaining).
The volume is sculpted to create specific views. From the central courtyard the planted roof yields a green pastoral scene with an almost scale-less quality (editing out neighboring houses with a false horizon). The courtyard creates a sheltered, central node for the house and also allows for visual interconnections across and between the private areas. The sunken open gardens relate directly to adjacent public zones.
Considering the path that encircles the house, we explored the dynamic relationship between the viewer and the object: how the geometry could exploit the viewer’s movement to create a visually ambiguous and shifting perception of space and volume. The building form presents a changing perception of the scale, geometry and massing from different exterior points of view.
At different moments, the brick skin wraps smoothly, pulls apart to create light portals or rotates on its own axis-creating a continuous patterned skin of changing opacity and texture. The shifting geometries of the bricks are generated by the geometries of the intersecting walls. These geometries ripple out from the corners, normalizing themselves to the surface of the plane as they move away from the generating corner. The corner bricks create interlocking “zipper” connections – clearly expressing the generative geometries.