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Residential Design, 2008

Ordos, Inner Mongolia


This proposal for a 1000 square meter villa in Inner Mongolia, China is part of a development of 100 villas to be designed by 100 architects from 27 different countries. The project is coordinated by Ai Wei Wei of FAKE Design, Beijing.


Our proposal strives to create a symbiotic relationship between the landscape and the building as well as the formation of a series of spatial chasms between major programmatic blocks. In developing the spaces, the proposal begins with the simultaneous desire to minimize the overall above ground massing of the building while still providing the underground spaces with immediate access to light and air. In pursuit of that objective, we have placed approximately a third of the program below grade. In most cases, however, the excavated area is offset from the building in such a way as to reduce the presence of the building mass on the site without the experiential disadvantages of occupying underground spaces. In effect, most all of the programmatic elements underground can operate as above ground spaces with regard to outdoor access, light, and air. This placement of spaces underground is also beneficial in providing constant protection from the prevailing winds. Access to the underground area is provided by two major ramps extending from the entry point of the site. The first ramp leads to the garage for vehicular access, with the second, smaller ramp leading to the recreation area in the basement.

The The overall building diagram is based on the development of two “U” shaped building elements, with one corresponding to the public and the other to the private functions of the program. The “U” shapes are then overlaid in an interlocking orientation to create deep, geometric light wells that extend into the overall mass of the building. These light wells are conceived of as the key architectural experience of the house, serving as a spatial and experiential link between programmed spaces and the landscape which they extend from. The geometric faceting of the house serves this idea by creating a material and formal continuity that operates in both plan and section..

Project Credits:


Principal Architects:

Dwayne Oyler

Jenny Wu


Design Team:

Fayez Ahbad

Phillip Cameron

Jian Huang

Huy Le


Consulting Structural Engineer: Buro Happold


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