The city of Ordos, nestled in the sandy deserts of Inner Mongolia, is home to a dramatic new museum designed by Chinese architectural firm MAD. Drawing on the image of "the ever rising sun on the grassland," the Ordos Museum's polished metal facade rises fluidly over the new city. Ordos - along with its museum - has been in development over the last six years, evolving from a rural culture into a glistening (and strangely underpopulated) vision of the future.
Designed to form part of a future metropolis, the museum was commissioned by the municipal government of Ordos in 2005. The result is a kind of spherical shell, made to act as an enormous incubator of the centuries-old culture and history of the region. Intended to offer refuge from the rationality of the outside urban city, the museum has become a popular gathering space for locals.
Upon entering the large atrium, visitors are invited to meander through exhibition spaces across six different levels, taking a journey through an unfolding world of light and shadow where the past, present and future intersect. To support this intersection, a curvaceous corridor connects the east and west entrances, creating a seamless connection between the outer and inner worlds.
Originally inspired by Buckminster Fuller's "Manhattan Dome", MAD's design for the Ordos Museum utilizes a synergetic system where polished metal louvers allow the outer structure to both reflect and dissolve the museum's surroundings, whilst the glazed roof guides light into interior spaces. Once drawn inside, the light is further channeled through the building's luminescent walls, with the metal louvers serving to promote natural ventilation. The effect is a unique architectural nucleus where art, history, and culture meet with the imagination of the future.