Are Yurts Going Out of Style?
On July 24 2017, The Economist published an article titled “Why Yurts are Going Out of Style in Mongolia”, touching precisely on one of the core pillars of my Fulbright research project. The article discusses the “second-best-known emblem of Mongolia ... the humble nomadic dwelling known as a yurt” (also known as a Ger in Mongolia) and how the Ger Districts in Mongolia’s Capital, Ulaanbaatar, are “generating horrendous pollution”(1).
The article goes on to describe how yurts are on the decline, as “Mongolians are heeding the siren song of modern living and being lured out of their yurts”. Yet contrary to the article’s position, I believe there is still much we can learn from in the structure’s primary nomadic advantage - portability. Since 2000, there has been a massive influx of herders to Ulaanbaatar - creating an exceptionally fast growth in the city (1). This is a problem trending not only in Mongolia but on a global scale, as “continuing population growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa”(2).
So what can we do to address such a daunting growth? How can the architecture of city structures be designed to adjust and adapt in order receive this massive influx of individuals seeking a modern urban life?
Therein lies one of my many interests in investigating the Mongolian Yurt; to assess what kind of technologies this portable housing system could inspire. In what ways could the adjustable lattice system and fabric enclosure demonstrate intelligent architectural adaptability? Could the world benefit from prefabricated architectural systems designed with the notion that the building could be reconfigured overtime to re-adjust for the large influx of populations on their way? Could this architectural system potentially allow for continued economic growth while also honoring planetary boundaries (3)?
For while the Mongolian Nomadic Yurt may be an object of the past - this cultural emblem could invigorate new insights into architectural practices of the future.
1) P, T. "Why Yurts Are Going Out of Style." The Economist (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 24 July 2017.
2) "World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision." United Nations (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 09 Sept. 2017.
3) Sachs, Jeffery. Sustainable Development. N.p.: Columbia UP, 2015. Print.