Oyu Tolgoi Housing Design & Community Planning


Rio Tinto



Oyu Tolgoi (OT) mine is among the largest copper mines in the world and the largest financial undertaking in Mongolia’s history. With an anticipated lifespan of 50 to 70 years and a projected work force of 5,500 permanent staff, OT is exploring options for the development of a town to accommodate its employees and a Business Park to support essential contractors, suppliers and mine-related businesses.

SvN, working with affiliate firm rePlan, developed options for housing, infrastructure and social facilities. Envisioned as an “oasis in the desert” and a model for urban planning, town governance and service delivery, the town’s design accounts for the harsh climate of the South Gobi Desert as well as the needs of the OT workforce and the existing population of the region, striving to be an example for other mine towns and urban areas of Mongolia.

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We prepare comprehensive plans for new communities ranging from high-density urban infill projects in areas subject to intensification, through to responsible greenfield development. Starting with an assessment of the local environment, we develop plans and designs that build on the history of the site, while identifying opportunities for sustainable growth.
Housing is a core focus of our business. We design innovative and adaptable buildings and master plans that respond to the immediate and future housing needs of diverse communities and all levels of income. We have a history of initiating and realizing housing projects that fill critical gaps in the market, and that are sensitive and adaptable to evolving cultures and contexts.
We have a long history of planning and designing the public realm of cities, including streets, building facades, public places, the space between buildings and open spaces. Our team has pioneered significant aspects of the “complete streets” concept, demonstrated through landmark projects like the St. George Street Revitalization, the Bloor Street Transformation and the Six Point Interchange Reconstruction.
We offer a full range of architecture, interior design, programming and construction management services for commercial and retail projects, especially within mixed-use developments. Our flexible designs focus on user experience and the creation of environments that reflect the culture and identity of our clients.
We develop community sustainability plans, environmental management plans and climate change adaptation plans for public, private and non-profit sectors.We have focused extensively on the displacement and resettlement of communities affected by natural disasters, wars, conflicts and poverty.
We build worker housing for resource, investment and infrastructure projects that serve emerging economies around the world. These housing solutions address the immediate workforce requirements of a project, and have the capacity to be reconfigured for long-term use.
Our team conducts research and creates strategy for government and non-government clients on a wide range of economic development issues. This includes strengthening, broadening and diversifying the economic base of regions, cities and towns and accelerating development through improvements to land use, urban design, planning policy and governance.
Regions experiencing rapid change have opportunities to foster emerging economies, through the careful management of land, infrastructure, buildings and the natural environment. We help communities and government bodies plan for the future in ways that are both visionary and pragmatic.