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NEO NOMAD part2

EXP06

BURGOMASTER FOR MAYOR: PROPOSALS FOR A BETTER HALIFAX

NEO NOMADIC

Mobility and the Architectural Armature
or Why architects need to revisit theoretical designs for a nomadic society to prepare for the future.

Social shifts have paved the way for a neo-nomadic society. Shrinking global boundaries (partly due to transportation progress and developments in electronic communication), flat pack (disposable) furniture, and the simplification of dwellings due to modern architecture (more specifically, the economically driven results of minimalism) have in some ways led to a cheapening of architecture and design partially fueled by architects’ failure to respond. Developments such as computers and minimalism being used by apathetic designers as a crutch and the DIY design revolution, describe a dangerous shift towards lost arts.

Neo-nomads have been loosely described as “people who turn a laptop, a wireless connection and a café into an office and work wherever they happen to be .” To allow for varying levels of the neo-nomad, there needs to be a broader defination that would reflect more of an impact on architecture. This would be the movement that describes less of a bond to architecture, human relationships, religion, careers, traditions and culture. A different level considers those that travel for work as a requirement rather than a choice (the job site moves, the individual is a medium of communication, or the seasons shift i.e. migrant workers). The neo-nomad now moves with slightly larger baggage, but still carries the acquired skills and tools (or weapons) as nomads have historically. It is becoming increasingly more convenient for someone in their 20s + 30s to fit the extent of their cherished belongings into a van, and many I know including myself, have recently proven that this is possible. Levels of the nomad therefore do exist.

Architecture at this level encompasses the static elements (the ‘real urbanism’) while ephemeral elements belong to the nomad. These elements may include the individual, their values and culture, or their relationships and their material goods, for example: personal belongings, a piece or two of furniture, tools, and the disposable items that are globally available and essentially similar (a flat pack table, a mass produced toaster, a toothbrush). The replaceable items become part of the nomad’s existence because of the familiarity. Here the ‘real’ estate is more of an armature than an extension of the individual.

A growing population is starting to move towards an urban/nomadic hybrid and architecture and design can either be reacting to, or driving this development forward. This should be seen as an opportunity to revisit the avant-garde designs of the past, which deal with new social groups and the ‘plug-in’ architecture that facilitates a semi-transient population. Clearly the levels of transience reflect on the architecture. Somewhere between the family home and the pack mule we can begin to create an infrastructure to accommodate the growing strength of the ‘plug-in’ lifestyle.

However, think positively. This should not paint a dystopian picture of overzealous panic, but present a closer look at an exciting opportunity for architectural invention. Think possibilities.

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