Located in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, the Ordos Museum
is a crossroads for a community working to interpret its local
traditions in a new urban context.
The project was first envisioned six years ago, in the then-desert wilderness of Inner Mongolia, when the municipal government of Ordos commissioned MAD to design a museum for the unbuilt metropolis. Amidst the controversy surrounding the planned city, it became evident that the museum for Ordos must navigate the many contradictions that emerge when local culture meets with visions of the future city.
Inspired by Buckminster Fuller's "Manhattan Dome," 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 favorite gathering place for local children and families.
Upon entering the atrium, a brighter, more complex world
unfolds. A canyon-like corridor connects the east and west
entrances, allowing the space to become an open extension of the
outer urban space. The interior is divided into several
exhibition halls, defined by continuous curvilinear walls, all
opening open onto the shared public space that runs through the
The glazed roof draws light into this environment, which is then channeled through the building by the luminescent walls, whilst the louvers allow for natural ventilation. Visitors meander through the space as if in the future - yet eternal- Gobi desert.
We decided to design an irregular nucleus for the new town, a building divided into several exhibition halls, with white curvilinear walls inspired by natural lava texture, creating amazement and surprise for visitors. The interior becomes an inner scenery completely different from the outside. A large public space with natural ventilation, where sun light penetrates the halls directly through the ceiling, makes you feel like entering a brand new world. The museum is enwrapped in reflective metal shutters, such shutters we hope, would transform and reflect the ugliness or whatever appeals of the reality from of the surroundings.
The Museum is the first of seven cultural buildings in the Masterplan by MAD to establish a new contemporary international urban district within the central area of Kang Ba Shi city, Erdos. Representing the Mongolian environment, cultural characters, and the advanced technology these buildings form a brand new image for the whole region, contemporary and dynamic.
Facts about Ordos Museum
Building Area: 41, 227 m2
Andrew C. Bryant
Howard Jiho Kim
Jtravis B Russett
China Institute of Building Standard Design & Research
The Institute of Shanxi Architectural Design and Research
SuP Ingenieure GmbH, Melendez & Dickinson Architects
Huhehaote construction Co., Ltd
Zhuhai King Glass En
Photographed by Iwan Baan
Last updated: December 19, 2013
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