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Nomad Manual

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    BLUEPRINTS FOR A NOMADIC LIFESTYLE

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    Urban Nomad Inspiration

    INSPIRATIONIn the late 1940s a young design student in Chicago named KenIsaacs was confronted by a serious shelter problem. Needing

    housing for himself and his new wife as well as enough space to

    carry out his work but just barely able to afford a tiny two-room

    city apartment, Isaacs needed a way to get more practical use

    from limited space. With a leap of imagination that anticipated

    the Lofting movement that would come some time later, he de-

    vised a novel home-made structure of bolt-together wooden parts

    which organized the one main room of his apartment into a

    two level set of small stacked spaces of specialized function, ex-

    ploiting the full volume of the limited room space. This Living

    Structure, as Isaacs came to call it, combined lounge, ofce/study,

    bedroom and storage all into its one cubical frame structure, its furnish-

    ings all integrated and made from the same modular bolted-together

    2x2 sticks and simple sheets of press-board. It was like a whole home

    intergated into a single piece of home-made furniture which could be

    spontaneously adapted to its inhabitants changing needs by

    simply rearranging its parts. This immediately drew the atten-

    tion of other designers and was soon featured in a number of

    magazine article. Intrigued by the versatility of this structure,

    Isaacs was soon obsessed with adapting the concept to an in-

    nite diversity of uses, evolving it into a standardized system

    of modular building he called Matrix which anyone could use

    to build just about anything. Thus was formed one of the keyfoundations for a brief but remarkable design movement that

    would eventually be known as the Urban Nomad movement.

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    Urban Nomad Inspiration

    The Urban Nomads were not designing static artifacts

    for their aesthetic value or novelty but rather were culti-

    vating a new kind of vernacular technology -a system of

    DIY fabrication which could be freely employed by any-

    one with simple tools and materials. So when they shared

    the results of their design efforts it was in the manner of

    sharing DIY instructions, not objects. In essence, these

    people were the Open Source programmers of their day.

    Isaacs spent decades spreading the word about Living Structures and the light living

    philosophy they embodied through seminars, articles, and courses conducted in design

    schools around the US. Simultaneously, he and his followers continued to experiment

    with an increasing diversity of applications, culminating in the development of what

    Isaacs referred to as Microhouses; tiny simple buildings based on a stressed-skin ply-

    wood structure and using an external support structure based on galvanized steel pipe

    joined with modular pipe-ttings. (such as todays Kee Klamp products) The applica-

    tion of free-standing housing seems to have pushed the practical limits of the Matrixtechnology. Isaacs succeeded in creating a variety of very interesting structures but he

    was never able to devise any systems of weatherproong which could withstand any

    extremes of climate or last for long periods. Likewise, his volumetric use of space

    tended to create habitats that would be fairly useless for the elderly or the disabled.

    Isaacs apparently did not consider this a setback. He intended Microhouses for a no-

    madic youth culture, not as anything which might compete with conventional housing.

    OPENSOUR

    CE

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    Urban Nomad Inspiration

    The Urban Nomads were a scattered community of young designe

    shared a common image of an emerging highly mobile and very soph

    ed youth culture which sought liberty through simple technologies

    sufciency. It wasnt a back to the earth ideology based on recrea

    agrarian lifestyle. It was about living light for the sake of mobility w

    liance on self-made artifacts made from common materials and indcast-offs for the sake of economy and efciency, the off-the-shelf pr

    of the consumer culture simply being impractical -too expensive, c

    some, inefcient in their use of materials and space- for a nomadic li

    THEURBAN

    NOMAD

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    Urban Nomad Contemporary Context

    WHAT IS HOME

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    Urban Nomad Contemporary Context

    YUR

    Perhaps one of the

    known semi-permane

    is the Mongolian Yurt

    structures are built u

    trellis structure cover

    insulation and weath

    vas. They are transpor

    back, and vary in siz

    feet in diameter upwa

    large enough for who

    live inside comfortably

    stitutes for brick and mYurts have proven the

    through hundreds of

    ing, and are made from

    cyclable and sustainab

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    Urban Nomad Contemporary Context

    COMPACTCompact Living is a key element of Nomadismcarry your life around, your life must be more

    Items carried are neccessities, and hence the sp

    to live is lessened, more compact and ultimatel

    table. Indeed, for some, compact spaces are som

    cessity in themselves. Air Hostesses need rest qua

    haul ights, and enjoy an arrangement similar t

    pod hotel. Workers and researchers in harsh e

    (such as the antarctic) require structures that ca

    the weather conditions, and these tend to be s

    the green pod here. Even entrepeneurs are mak

    of compact spaces. Left, a hotel room built insewer pipe provides a compact and private spa

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    Urban Nomad Contemporary Contect PORTA

    BILIT

    Y

    Items must be chosen in terms of portability. This is a combination of both co

    lightweight items. Often, as with the bed to the left, the construction of an item

    it may be packed into a small size during transportation, but can then be exp

    use. Below, a trolley system is used to aid the portability of larger items for an

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    Urban Nomad Contemporary Context

    MATERIAL

    Choice of material is crucial. In 1963, the director of

    Heineken designed a bottle that, after use, could be

    used as a building brick. Sadly, the idea was never re-

    leased into the public realm, but the concept could have

    changed the way we recycle goods. Innovative use ofmaterials, recycled or otherwise, can help the urban no-

    mad to maximize usibility, durability and packability.

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    Urban Nomad Contemporary Context

    MULTI-USEOne way of reducing the weight, quantitiy and dynamics of items is toensure that items have more than one possible use. A ne example of this

    is origami, where one square of paper can form any of thousands of dif-

    ferent models. Shown here is the art of Furoshiki, where a single square

    of fabric utilised in various ways in order to wrap and carry objects of all

    different shapes and sizes. After use, the fabric is simply untied and un-

    folded back into a square, ready for another use. If this concept could be

    adopted more widely, luggage could hold an entirely different meaning.

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    Urban Nomad Specifcation

    SPECIFICATION

    It is my belief that a nomadic home built for the urban environment must full the following specications:

    It must be tranportable on foot, by one person, and hence must weigh no more than 25kg (based on EU regulations for load carrying in the workplace

    One person must be able to contruct it up alone.

    It must be large enough for two people to move freely inside

    It must be inconspicuous in an urban landscape

    It must be adaptable, and make use of forgotten spaces such as corners or rooftops.

    It must be usable on an everyday basis, and hence must provide the means for basic needs such as cooking, washing, hygeine etc.

    It must provide a private space.

    It must be realtively cheap, so as to appeal to the target age range of 18-35 year olds.

    It must be fairly sustainable in its construction, and have a small carbon footprint; it must touch the earth lightly.

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    Urban Nomad Concept

    INITIAL CONCEPTDesigned to t into corners and other unusual spaces, this shelter has multiple congurations,

    ranging from a simple tube, a tent-like ridgeline shelter, or this wedge like tetrahedron. The

    habitant would sleep toward the low end of the shelter, and work, cook and relax in the por-

    tion with maximum headroom. The structure, made from a strong but light nylon could have

    an insert, as visualised to the right, which could contain pockets, hanging rails or insulation

    depending on the users needs. The structure needs no internal support, only a single tie off

    onto another structure, such as a nearby building or mast. If such a structure is not available,

    a single pole could be used as support. The shape of the shelter is not only structurally strong

    but would also deect wind or adverse weather condtions with ease. The upper plane would

    be perfect for solar panels, mounted on the fabric, to gain maximum exposure to sunlight.

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    Urban Nomad Concept

    CONCEPT MODELA scale model of the nomadic shelter concept sketched pre

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