Dwellings for a Digital Nomad: Radical Mobility


Tala Ayoubi

Document Type

Thesis, Senior


Spring 7-18-2019


Bedouin nomadic tribes, Wadi Rum desert, digital nomadism, modern nomadic dwellings






The term “nomad” was originally applied to hunter-gatherer communities, or early pastoralists who had to travel as a useful strategy to exploit scarce resources. Today, mass migration resulting from political instability, rapid urbanization across the world, and unprecedented individual economic mobility among young professionals has emerged as a new nomadic norm. As for many digitization has allowed us to be anywhere at any time essentially changing how we interact with space, place and the concept of time. Yet as the urban planner and renowned author of The Civic City in a Nomadic World, Charles Landry put it, “there is a desire for belonging, distinctiveness and identity.” In contemporary internet culture the term “digital nomad” has emerged to describe people whose source of income (which may come from a range of creative and more traditional jobs) is not tied to a single physical location or workplace and have leveraged this opportunity to travel extensively. The author proposes to explore the intersection between the traditional Bedouin nomadic tribes in Jordan with the influx of digital nomadism in the region connected to the increasingly economically vital tourism industry. Currently Wadi Rum desert attracts wealthier middle- aged western tourists who camp for a week at most. To attract the younger digital generation, Jordan must provide unique experiences, and one option is getting a glimpse of a Bedouin nomad’s lifestyle. For this proposal digital access is a primary need while traditional tourist facilities like resort style accommodations are a secondary consideration. The author seeks to reimagine the western idea of “durability” where it does not equal structural permanence and fixity, but rather structural performance, and adaptability. The use and misuse of materiality and negotiating traditional textiles with modern approaches to design, will allow for optimal performance and a fresh new aesthetic. This project isn’t merely as a design that addresses escapism by discovering the world through travel, or a historical study of traditional Bedouin construction, but rather a unique design scenario that fosters commonalities between people of vastly different racial, economic and social backgrounds and reconsiders the notion of home, ownership, community and permanence.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisors:

Lori Brown,

Abingo Wu

Matthew Celmer

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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