Designing A Pipe Dream In The Mongolian Desert


Remember the “Bird’s Nest” stadium from the Beijing Olympics? It’s creators were the starchitects Herzog & deMueron and the Chinese artist AiWeiWei. Happily, the two are still collaborating: This time, they’re trying to bring avant-garde housing to the prime locale of…inner Mongolia. Seriously.

Ordos 100, first announced last spring, would comprise 100 houses, designed by 100 architects chosen by Herzon & DeMueron. From the outset, the whole thing felt like a publicity/ponzi scheme–the budget was a laughably scant $5 million, even though the each house was to be 1,000 square meters (over 10,000 square feet). And nevermind the matter of convincing design afficandoes to live in inner Mongolia, which is dominated by the sometimes scalding, frequently freezing Gobi desert.

So it’s been utterly surprising that the design schemes are still trickling out—several have been unveiled in the last month. Say what you will about the project’s baseline ridiculousness, some of the housing designs have been remarkable. In fact, it’s almost become an index of what’s on the minds of the world’s youngest, cleverest architects.

The Ordos 100 website is useless. But here are three of the most interesting projects gleaned from various design blogs: The design by MOS (pictured above) is a cluster of rooms topped by “solar chimineys” to deal with the seasonal temperature fluxuations. Below, Estudio Barozzi Veiga create a house with a tent-like roof, to echo traditional yurts:


nArchitect’s scheme (below) involves a well-insulated “inner” house, and a more seasonal “outer” house punctuated by gardens and terraces: