Located in the southwestern part of Inner Mongolia, in Ordos City, the Kaokaoshina New District is an emerging art and cultural district organized by Ai Wei Wei. Kaokaoshina is positioned to be a thriving tourist destination, in anticipation, the development calls for a series of villas for people to live and visit to experience this incredibly unique part of the world. Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design was asked to design a Villa, and based on the success of the Villa – the main restaurant for the District and a landmark Concert Hall.
The concept of Villa I is based on a hybridization of the traditional housing of the Mongols – the yurt – and the Chinese – the use of a central courtyard. The yurt is suited for nomadic life, and like the Chinese, Mongols live within the boundaries of a village. Additionally, the experience of building is embodied in three ideas: circulation, metamorphosis and lightness. The design uses the notion of circulation to choreograph a dance between the person and the building – there are multiple, indirect paths which loop through the building. Along these paths there are a series of arranged social spaces, each offering uniquely framed views of the elements – sky, earth, and water.
Villa I is not a single object but rather a space in the process of metamorphosis likened to cellular mitosis. The northern face of the villa is a single vertical rectangle; the shape and proportion of a door. The southern face is two overlapping horizontal rectangles; two giant windows. Tying back to the idea of circulation, the movement throughout the building activates this transformation. Scales and proportions change radically – thus circulation and movement spur the metamorphosis.
Lastly, the building was created to be light – hovering above the ground, filled with sunlight and without a clear inside and outside. The site evokes purity and rawness, the design respects the site and so sits above it. The illusion that the Villa is floating above the dunes and the grass is hopefully achieved; and the use of glass to evoke transparency and connectivity to nature hopes to engage the visitor with the site rather than the building itself.
Sited adjacent to a museum, a music hall, and a boutique hotel, the Ordos Restaurant promises to become a crucial element in the fabric of Kaokaoshina, an emerging cultural district and tourist destination in southwestern Inner Mongolia. The restaurant’s striking appearance – of a glass box floating effortlessly above a shaped landscape – owes its diaphanous presence to an innovative materials palette of high-tech glass that includes colored inner layers, dichromatic and translucent films, and ceramic fritting. Inside, this glass mélange tantalizes patrons with constant, subtle shifts of light – an appropriate visual complement to the restaurant’s menu, which encompasses three cuisines.
The 3,000 sm restaurant maintains its vital connection to the environment on several levels. Extensive solar analysis early in the design process established an optimal orientation for the transparent building, and a large green roof harbors an array of indigenous plants. In stark contrast to the restaurant’s modern architecture, the structural skeleton of a traditional Anhui house, purchased and restored for the project, stands at the heart of a central courtyard, provoking a lively visual dialogue and narrative for this exciting culinary destination.
In anticipation of the success of this new District, and to attract the likes of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra to perform, a world-class Theater needed to be designed. Located at the crossroads of the major arteries of the Ordos Development, the Theater is not only integral to the art and culture of the district but as a iconic gateway to the city itself.
The concept of Theater is based on the movement of a traditional Chinese dance – The Long Sleeve Dance. This dance was very popular in the royal court and among civilians during the Tang Dynasty. It was originated in the State of Wu (the present Jiangsu province) as early as Jin Period (265-402) and got popular in the central plains in the Tang Dynasty.
The design, with its undulating curves, mimics the footwork pattern of the dance and replicates the movement of the “long sleeves.” In the dance, the looping of the long sleeves is reflected in circular drums that house the 1,200-seat main concert hall, 335-seat performance-theater, and 100-seat black box experimental theater respectively. The circulation throughout and around the building creates a symbiotic relationship – a dance of sorts – between the visitor and the space. Weaving, like the sleeve, between the theaters are a series of nodes with lounges, refreshment areas and service wings.
+ Project credits
Architect: Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design
Project: Ordos Concert Hall
Pragram: Villa, Restaurant, Concert Hall Master Narrative
Location: southwestern part of Inner Mongolia