Historic nomadic communities in Central Asia were at home on the move and where they hitched their horses. Today’s students, faculty and staff are the modern nomads. They are at home where they log in. Mobile tech devices are their horses.
Therefore, reimagine the college campus as a network of flexible learning and gathering places that a community of nomads feels are their homes. At any moment “home” could be a classroom, lab, cafe, hallway, library nook, assembly hall or bench under a tree. The interconnected "homes"on such a campus activates a community of hunters, gatherers, and traders of knowledge, ideas and skills. On this ideal campus, as in the hospitable yurts of Central Asia, any newcomer is welcomed as an honored guest. The architectural manifestations of nomadism in today’s higher education domain will be sustainable transformations of current sites and structures into modest but distinctly majestic places,
forming lasting value and values.
Our design for the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan offers daily homes for a nomadic generation of 21st century learners. Unlike more sprawling liberal arts college campuses, open and flexible spaces at AUCA are tightly woven into one building and one quad bringing the entire community together in full sight. Interconnected spaces activate interdisciplinary learning and chance encounters. The building is a nomad's on site browser.
The furniture is nomadic, too. Tables, screens and shelves are on wheels, an invitation to rearrange as needed and desired. Regional commercial and creative organizations are welcomed guests to gather and exhibit on campus, engaging students. As nomads thrive on what the earth offers at their feet, AUCA boasts its region’s first geothermal heating and cooling system. The local standard concrete structure is not filled with blank walls and long corridors typical with the prevailing Soviet style but rather is exposed as an open framework for a nomad's vista.