IoNA - The Institute of Nomadic Architecture

Researching temporary and traditional buildings around the world.


IoNA is a rich source of information on the traditional architecture of nomadic peoples. We have been researching nomadic architecture for the last fifteen years and have over 40,000 images and 500 hours of video clips, as well as detailed notes from all around the world. We are slowly compiling this material into a structured resource...but it is taking time and there is a lot left to do before this site is anything like complete.

Most of the buildings you will find on this site have not previously been recorded in any significant detail, and our study methods are muti-layered. We record the structure itself, and where possible more than one of a type, in order to assess the diversity within the group. Within this framework, attempts are made to name all the parts in the local language, to measure the sizes of spaces and components, and to understand the structural and environmental logic behind the design. We record the processes involved in making the building, this is not always easy as some tents take over two years to produce, a little at a time, as the family moves from camp to camp, and for the mobile architectures the way of moving the building. We record the way in which the dwelling is occupied, any cultural values such as sacred spaces and the places for different family members and guests. Finally, we try to assess the recent developments that have taken place in the design of the building, whether by assessing the introduction of new materials or through the narrative of older occupants.

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