ORDOS 100 #11: NL Architects

This villa is located in plot ORDOS project.

Architects: NL Architects – Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk, Kamiel Klaasse Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Project leader: Michael Schoner Project team: Jung-Hwa Cho, Gen Yamamoto, Florent Le Corre, Wei-Nien Chen, Amadeo Linke Structural Engineer: ABT Delft, Walter Spangenberg Climate Consultant: DGMR, Paul van Bergen 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


Ordos 100 appears to be a typical suburb. It envisions freestanding houses in an abundance of public and private green. But large part of the year, the site could be considered a desert. A desert covered in snow. Once the conditions are right the grass takes over, the best grass in the world. Still the temperature will drop below zero over 200 nights a year. Minus 20 degree is not an exception. How will this affect the garden? How can we use it? What could grow there?

In this project the garden plays a central role. Literally. Instead of sitting in the middle of the plot, this house wraps around it. The 3 layers of the house together envelop a garden.

The large void at the core of the project will be separated from the outside by glass walls and a glass roof. A third climate comes into being. It will work as a buffer between the cold outside and the warm inside. It will allow exotic plants to survive in this harsh climate: a greenhouse on the inside. This enclosed garden might perform in a similar way as gardens in more moderate climates ; a place where you can invite friends and neighbors for drinks and food. Now you can have BBQ all year round.

block diagram

The house is a block. The garden perforates the block from east to west. It frames a vista from the access road over the lake. Unexpected transparency. The inner garden is slightly elevated to create the best view. The top floor is mainly for the bedrooms. A kind of maze connects them. Now and then the maze opens up to from several informal mini-living rooms or lounges. Excellent setting for sculptures or paintings. There is a large void in the center that overviews the garden below. The middle floor consists of two “wings” parallel to the open space in the center. In the north wing facing east is the formal entrance, a kind of English style hall. Here you will also find a study and a living room. On the south are the kitchens and dining rooms.

The lower floor, or basement which is not really a basement because not completely sunken, daylight can still enter the rooms- contains the entertainment space, the pool, the parking and several technical facilities. Three openings will bring in daylight and create relationships with the garden above.

section BB

In both wings are vertical connections. Together they form a route, a continuous loop. It is worthwhile to take your guests on a tour through the house.

The Landscape surrounding the house is left as it is. Only at three spots where the Interior asks for it the dunes dip down. In the East the biggest dip forms a T-shaped bowl that ends at the garage door. To make it suitable for cars it is paved at its bottom. The T can be used as a turning circle or as an additional parking spot. Steps made out of boulders connect it to the main entrance of the house. There are two more dips: one on the south-west corner and one along the north facade that bring light into the ‘basement’. A path out of quarry stones connects the street with the entrance. The outer garden is the soft opposite to the clear geometry of the house that looks like a block sunken into the Landscape.

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Cite: Ethel Baraona Pohl. "ORDOS 100 #11: NL Architects" 19 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/11532/ordos-100-11-nl-architects> ISSN 0719-8884

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