London-based DRDH Architects has been invited to join fellow UK-based designers Simon Conder Associates and Eyal Weizman on the Ordos 100 scheme in Mongolia.
The surprise announcement came last week in an email from Herzog & de Meuron partner Jacques Herzog, who has been tasked by client Jiang Yuan Water Engineering to select 100 up-and-coming architects from around the world to design 100 villas in 100 days.
DRDH director Daniel Rosbottom said the news of the firm’s appointment ‘came like a bolt out of the blue’.
He added: ‘There are various ways I can think of that they heard of us, but what is the point of speculating? We are on it and are very excited to be asked by people of this calibre.’
DRDH’s selection means there are now four UK-based firms – German practice Thiele-Geisler Architekten has an office in London – working on the scheme, which is being masterplanned by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
Although the Ordos region – which has a population of 1.4 million – is in Chinese Inner Mongolia, no Chinese architects have made it to the list.
The houses are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.