An oasis in Ordos

Wednesday 09 Nov 2011

Polished aluminium form of Art and City Museum stands proud on Ordos skyline

Ordos in Inner Mongolia has seen drastic changes in the last few years. Whilst the city’s spread across the Gobi Desert is extensive, the urbanised area was comparatively minor until six or so years ago when the municipal government began to make architectural changes to the landscape, upping the percentage of urbanised land.

As part of this movement, Beijing-based MAD Architects was commissioned to design a new Art and City Museum for the unbuilt metropolis and embarked upon a groundbreaking journey to provide the local community of Ordos with an outstanding public building.

The result is a sinuous, flowing dome which bubbles up from the ground in undulating matte aluminium rings. Buckminster Fuller’s ‘Manhattan Dome’ was the inspiration for this, with a release from the architects clarifying: “MAD conceived of a futuristic shell to protect the cultural history of the region and refute the rational new city outside. Encapsulated by a sinuous facade, the museum sits upon sloping hills - a gesture to the recent desert past and now a favourite gathering place for local children and families.”

Internally white-walled volumes weave together in a canyon-like form, again referencing the recent desert history of the site. Naturally ventilated spaces are lit by shafts of sunlight permitted by the glazed skylights inserted into the roof system.

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