Thursday, September 18, 2014

Architects turn Gateshead into Mongolian yurt camp

Architects turned a small corner of Gateshead into a Mongolian yurt camp as they invited children to learn more about the Far Eastern country’s rich nomadic culture.

Gradon Architecture has been working in the former soviet state, trying to design replacements for buildings which are ill equipped to face temperatures that can drop to minus 30C.

“Most people tend to associate Mongolia with images of Genghis Khan and nomads, but actually this is a very outdated view,” said architectural technologist Tanja Smith.

“In many ways Mongolia is as modern as the UK with an enthusiasm for forward thinking, especially amongst the younger Mongolian generations seeking and pushing for change.

“However, as one of the coldest and most polluted places to live on earth, Mongolia and especially its capital Ulan Bator, continues to face significant challenges which affects us all.

“For the past year, we have been working in the country to design a number of innovative and sustainable housing solutions that will help replace the former soviet-era building stock which is ill-equipped to cope in deadly minus 30 temperatures.

“We now want to share these experiences with our local community to get the next generation thinking about sustainability and how construction and low impact dwellings can improve the way people live.

“Hopefully our Mongolian Discovery Day helped to bring this unique culture to life.”

The one-day event saw an authentic Mongolian Ger tent - also known as a yurt - pitched outside Gradon’s office at NE40Studios in Ryton, with nine and 10-year-old pupils from St Mary and St Thomas Aquinas Primary School and St Thomas More School in Blaydon, visiting to experience what it’s like to live in Mongolia.

Earlier this year, the practice submitted design proposals for 50 energy-efficient homes in the Nukht Valley of Ulan Bator, as well as an 18-storey hotel, apartment and shopping plaza in the city of Darkhan.

So while learning about the nomadic culture the children were challenged to design and decorate their own low-impact homes as part of the project.

And Gradon also used the day as a chance to raise money for the Christina Noble Foundation, a charity which works with deprived people in Mongolia.

“While working in Mongolia we’ve witnessed some terrible scenes of poverty,” Tanja said.

“Families with very little money to their name are struggling to survive in some of the coldest temperatures known to man.

“We’ve been out to visit these families with the Christina Noble Foundation and as part of our work, we’re helping to plan new improved residential developments for people currently living in deprived Ger communities.”

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