Figure 1 -Adobe structure at Azraq Camp, Jordan.

In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, he describes the city of Trude in the chapter on continuous cities. The city’s distinctive character is its undistinguishable nature. The sameness of it is carried out in the landscape of the city; the flowers, street signs and houses. When the chance to leave approached, the people of Trude said, “you can resume your flight whenever you like...but you will arrive at another Trude, absolutely the same, detail by detail...only the name of the airport changes.”


For nomadic communities, they carry the city of Trude with them rather than arriving at it. Though temporary, the tent features a sense of continuity. It goes wherever the makers of the tent travel towards. When pitched on a new landscape, the same structure and social customs associated with it ground it to the language of the familiar. The space then becomes a place called home within the landscape of placelessness.


The dismantling of a tent done by the same hands which assembled it is different from a home that is broken down by a stranger. Unlike nomadic communities who have ownership over their impermanent structures, those who are forcefully made to relocate are set in a state of impermanence; displaced from their land and loved ones.


The forceful nature of being pushed to find a new place to live in an entirely unfamiliar topography makes it difficult to call that space ‘home’. However, the fragments of their past carried to new spaces help them build a semblance of the homes they once belonged to; reassuring them that everyone has  a place and community they will always be part of.








Further Reading

Akšamija, Azra. "Future-heritage." June 2021. Digital. 30 6 2021.

Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. Florida: Harcourt Brace & Company, © 1974 by Harcourt Brace & Company. Digital.

Macneal, Alina. ""The Stone Encampment.”." Environmental Design: Journal of the Islamic Environmental Design Research Centre 1-2 (1991): 36-45. Digital.

Mahmoud Na'amneh, Mohammed Shunnaq and Aysegui Tastasi. "The Modern Sociocultural significance of the Jordanian Bedouin Tent ." Nomadic Peoples ( 2008): 149-163. Digital.

Negrin, Fiona. "Glorifying tents." Sanctuary: Modern Green Homes ( 2019): 54-59. Digital.

O'Kane, Bernard. "From Tents to Pavilions: Royal Mobility and Persian Palace Design." Ars Orientalis, Vol. 23 ( 1993): 249-268. Digital.




Image Source:

Akšamija, Azra. "Future-heritage." June 2021. Digital. 30 6 2021.



Written by Rukmini Swaminathan. 

Rukmini is a researcher at The Registry of Sarees. She is interested in textile, design and architecture history and hopes to explore  her interests through these journal entries.


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