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Ordos Museum, Inner Mongolia

The Art and City Museum conceived by MAD architects now sits as a completed futuristic landmark in a growing desert city.

Ordos Museum, Inner Mongolia


September 28th, 2011

Some 6 years ago, in the then-desert wilderness of Inner Mongolia, MAD architects in Beijing was commissioned by the municipal government of Ordos to design a museum for an as yet unbuilt metropolis.

It was a formidable undertaking, considering the harsh remoteness of the area, and the controversy surrounding the planned city.

Ordos Museum

Video stills from a film produced by Niu Han

Recalling a visit to the site many years ago, lead architect Ma Yansong described the experience as akin to a dream, rather like “the remote scenes in Botticelli blue movies”.

Upon seeing the model for the new town, which he called “a pattern, with no reflection of the urban space”, he thought of Buckminster Fuller and his fantastical vision of a huge glass dome to cover most of Manhattan city.

Ordos Museum

Similar to the ’Manhattan Dome’, MAD has designed a protective cover to ’safeguard’ the museum’s interior from the city – the futuristic shell serving as a means to protect the cultural history of the region and refute the rational new city outside.

The 40m-high museum is a sinuous glinting structure cladded in reflective metal shutters; its position on sloping hills is a nod to the desert landscape of its past and the area has also now become a favourite gathering ground for families.

Ordos Museum

Ordos Museum

Inside, the space is divided into several exhibition halls. A public area with natural ventilation also enables sunlight to flood the halls.

Ordos Museum

While the construction of the city continues, we take a moment to look at the stunning video of the completed museum project sent to us by MAD architects, produced in collaboration with young film director
 Niu Han.

MAD architects

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