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Cultural wisdom begets cozy temporary homes for the Nenets of the Siberian Arctic

On the Nomadic Architecture YouTube channel, the UK architect Gordon Clarke chronicles how people across the globe use ancient traditions to construct sustainable houses that fit perfectly to their occupants’ ecologies and cultures. In this instalment, Clarke captures the Nenets people of Russia’s Far North as they build a temporary dwelling known as a chum (from the Russian чум, or ‘choom’) amid harsh Arctic winter conditions. As reindeer herders, the Nenets move alongside their animals, relocating every few days and often covering some 1,200 kilometres a year. As this video shows, survival in such demanding conditions requires deep knowledge accumulated over centuries as well as extraordinary teamwork. Through Clarke’s filming of the tent-making process, viewers are given a meaningful window into Nenets culture, including the distinct roles of women and men.

24 May 2021

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