We are a nonprofit social enterprise that seeks to find innovative and creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues in the ger areas of Ulaanbaatar. We partner with top universities and institutions globally in the fields of architecture, design, and engineering. Our current projects focus on researching and developing ways to affordably modify and modernize the Mongolian ger to meet the housing needs of ger area residents.
Where we worK
We work in the ger areas of Ulaanbaatar city. The capital city of Ulaanbaatar is home to almost half of Mongolia’s total population of 3 million. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world, with temperatures frequently dipping below -40°C (-40°F) in the winter. Ulaanbaatar is composed of two distinct urban forms, the centrally located, planned apartment areas and the semi-formal, unplanned ‘ger areas’ that encircle the city. Of the close to 1.5 million residents of Ulaanbaatar, 60% live in the ger areas. ‘Ger’ is the Mongolian word for the round tent-like nomadic dwelling. The ger areas are composed of both traditional gers and self-built detached houses, but the main identifying factor for the ger areas is that none of the households are connected to the core infrastructure of central heating, running water, or plumbing. Over the past 25 years, Ulaanbaatar’s population has more than doubled due to the rapid rate of migration of former nomadic herders into the city. For a country that has maintained a nomadic herding culture for centuries, living in an urban environment is a brand new phenomenon that presents infrastructural, political, and social problems.
Our exhibit, Settling the Nomads, which was created in partnership with Rural Urban Framework at The University of Hong Kong was displayed in the Arsenale. The exhibit contained three gers that were modified to become unique projection rooms that contained films showing life in the ger areas.
In partnership with Rural Urban Framework at The University of Hong Kong, we are producing an incremental development design strategy for the ger areas. We are currently developing and testing a ger plug-in concept that would provide residents with a toilet, shower, and under-floor heating systems.
The City of Nomads exhibit in partnership with Rural Urban Framework at The University of Hong Kong is one of the 11 installations within the opening exhibition Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World. The exhibit shows how the ger areas are an intersection between rural and urban.
A team of students from Stanford University's d.school course Design for Extreme Affordability researched and developed the HubCap, an innovative and low-cost product to reduce heat loss in gers.
Workshops and studio classes
We have hosted a variety of design and architecture workshops in the ger areas with university partners including Stanford, MIT, Columbia, and HKU.
A research project in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania's Center for Environmental Building & Design to audit the comfort and energy use of gers in order to develop ways to enhance energy performance.