The romantic notion of a wanderlust, the ability to depart freely from familiar things with a minimum of possessions is a desire that almost everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. The nomadic lifestyle is very attractive because it represents the possibility of rebelling against symbols of stability and survival in favor of exploring the natural environment and being able to adapt to a variety of living conditions with ease. This desire led to the emergence of mobile structures for those who want to move where these structures, whatever their shape, can be transformed into a temporary office, a home, or even an entire community.
The growth of cities and suburbs raised questions about the best way to live and evolved into unconventional approaches to local design, which is almost parallel. Bedouin architecture is an idea that designers have reconsidered time and time again. As advocates of urban living, designers have also been known to combine the efficiency of urban housing with aspects of the itinerant lifestyle. From designing architecture that floats and rethinking how we understand campsites, and exploring new possibilities for architecture on the move, these projects redefine the meaning of home and prove that the spirit of the Bedouin is still very much alive today.
Perhaps one of the first notable examples of mobile architecture in the modern built environment was Aldo Rossi's Teatro del Mundo, which was constructed for the inaugural Venice Biennale in 1980. Although this structure was not designed for the inhabitants, it was erected in shipyards in Fusina and dragged across the Adriatic to Piazza San Marco for public viewing. This floating structure represents the stage as an architectural object, but its temporary nature has been of lasting importance in the development of floating architecture models, which further evolved into hundreds of inhabited homes, offices and schools that can float.
The Canadian side office has developed a new way of understanding what camping means by removing the focus from camping gear and proposing design questions about the campsite itself, the group processes involved, and the overall camping experience. The project, which was presented at the first Chicago Biennial in 2015, explored five possibilities for how "camps relate to each other, how camping rituals inform and give knowledge about spatial arrangement, and how a camp site interacts with its context". The act of camping raises questions about existence and how humans can provide stability in an ever-changing environment as they move from one place to another. A feature of the camp, designs were printed on a series of brochures explaining who might use a particular site, gear required, landscaping, seasonal weather, and how to prepare the site for housing. The camping process is very attractive because it provides an escape from permanence and revitalizes the primary interest in returning to the primitive hut.
Architecture on the move or "mobile architecture" as it was called it, is another typology that grew out of a desire to venture off the grid into the great unknown. These habitable structures can either be pushed or pulled from one place to another. Some of the more notable examples include the increasingly popular "tiny homes" that fit into the program of an ordinary home in a compact area. Many homes are less than 40 square meters, and offer only minimal storage, meaning that residents can only bring a fraction of their personal belongings. These tiny houses enhance social interaction between people and create a sense of isolation with their surroundings.
When our lives are not concentrated in one place, Nomadic architecture has the power to suggest a new way of living, changing the way we eat, sleep, work and live our daily lives on the go. The potential of these structures shows how architects design creative solutions to escape our modern reality in search of a more exploratory and environmentally immersive way of life.
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