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28 September 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inside, the space is divided into several exhibition halls. A public area with natural ventilation also enables sunlight to flood the halls.
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.