Off-road testing and testing areas that create different environments

Designed by Margot Krasojevic Architects for a year-round testing ground for off-road testing of new vehicles, the structure is located in Mongolia's South Gobi Desert, 80 km north of the Mongolia-People's Republic of China border, 100 km from Khanbunbat Airport, Khanbogd District and 10 km from Omnogobi Lake.


Hydroplane land track
Photo credit: Margot Krasojević

The design strategy is for the building to respond to site climate merging with its immediate environmental changes. The design gives the impression of being blown on-site by desert winds, rising out of the landscape when in use, and will be buried under snow and sand when lying dormant. The buried desert building activates with motion. Rolling sands of the Gobi desert unveil landscapes reconfiguring the topology. The building captures this transformation by being revealed and covered by the sands as it sits low into the sedimentary rock, a fossil-like presence, a relic awaiting discovery. The scheme is a year-round proving ground for off-road testing for new model vehicles with viewing tunnels, flooded areas, and various surface and ground gradients to test the limit of the car's engineering. The design, sponsored by SIAC cars, accommodates three zones: torsional obstacles, twist tracks, surface response, and skid slopes for endurance; viewing and facilities; and artificial hydroplane flooded and frozen zones. The building is an artificial landscape, simulating environments using solar and piezoelectric engineering to mimic different driving conditions. Road surfaces testing break and grip function include snow, ice, wet and dry asphalt, and functional and endurance testing grounds.


Mongolian desert site
Photo credit: Margot Krasojević


Entrance to vehicle proving ground
Photo credit: Margot Krasojević

The primary structure is an extruded barrel vault, partly submerged into the desert rock, and functioning as a cooler subterranean environment containing part of the race track, skid circle pads, hydroplane, and testing facilities. A cantilevered ramp projects from the primary structure, circulating the site using hydraulics to slide into the landscape to alter the track gradient and driving conditions, which can be flooded and frozen. The site's climate and environment change daily, with Mongolian desert temperatures varying from -30 to +38 degrees Celsius.


Photo credit: Margot Krasojević


Frozen and flooded hydroplane
Photo credit: Margot Krasojević

A hydroplane area located around the track on the ground plane freezes part of the primary structure, making use of the nearby reservoir; a refrigeration system for polished ice surfaces, cooled using solar generators that line the looped race track, generates a maximum capacity of 50KW. The building partly freezes and thaws, mimicking climate according to the season, but also has the capacity to simulate artificial environments throughout the year when needed. Viewing galleries in tunnels run alongside and below the tracks so that cars are in 3d at all times. Cameras trace the movements as the building becomes an infrastructure merging landscape, vehicle, and program / building.


Photo credit: Margot Krasojević


Test track facility with viewing tunnel
Photo credit: Margot Krasojević

About Margot Krasojević

Margot Krasojević completed her architectural education at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and The Bartlett, University College London. She worked with Zaha Hadid Architects and was a lead undergraduate and master's studio director, investigating digital and sustainable design programs at UCL, University of Greenwich, UWA, and the University of Washington. She then opened a multidisciplinary architectural design studio focusing on integrating environmental issues, renewable energy, and sustainability as part of the design process.