National Amusement Park
Local Design Institute: e fab
Structure, Mechanical, Sustainability: BuroHappold Engineering
Canopy Design: James Carpenter Design Associates
Site: 17 acres
Buildings: 500,500 GSF
Parking: 370,000 GSF
Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is a paradox: it is at once a dense urban center while also being home to a centuries old nomadic culture in a largely rural nation. Yet, to be a city dweller is also to be a nomad, as in the tradition of the flâneur. At their best, both urban and rural lifestyles center on freedom, on autonomy, on self- determination. Movement is more important than the material. Cities, when designed well, allow the same independence that nature provides: the ability to roam, to explore, to both lose yourself and discover yourself anew.
PAU has been commissioned to design a 500,000-square-foot mixed-use village in the heart of Ulaanbaatar. The proposal suggests a new model for living, working, and partaking in culture, shopping, and entertainment that both reflects and channels the beauty of the Mongolian people by making manifest the nomadic traditions that animate this region. The result is a modern urban center that looks to the city’s future while also speaking to Mongolia’s rich history and beautiful landscape. Through thoughtful design and the use of local materials and construction methods, the Village not only invests in the needs and ways of life of its residents, but also showcases Mongolian culture in a manner that is accessible for both tourists and the local community.
By breaking away from the traditional building typologies that are designed to control the pedestrian, and instead offering a non-linear and non-gridded site plan, Ulaanbaatar Village encourages freedom of movement in a growing city that is increasingly auto-centric and congested. Nonhierarchical paths connect a series of public plazas that are flexibly designed to serve as places of repose or as sites for more organized retail or entertainment. Forty-one low- and mid-rise structures can be used in a variety of ways by residents and visitors alike. Architecturally, there are two types of buildings: those dedicated to residential and work space, and those that will house public programs such as a theater, a nightclub, a department store with a grocery shop at the ground level, an indoor playground, a haunted house (the site is adjacent to Mongolia’s National Amusement Park), and an observatory. People are encouraged to stroll around and through the buildings, to linger or pass through the plazas, in multiple meandering paths of movement and repose, enjoying key ideals of both urban and nomadic life: autonomy and discovery.
The Village responds to its natural surroundings in a multitude of ways. From a practical standpoint, the overall layout and the shape of the buildings modulate solar exposure as needed and provide wind-shielding where necessary. Visually, the undulating, angled rooftops and the warm colors of stained concrete and stone echo the majestic mountains nearby.