Incremental Urbanism

For thousands of years, Mongolians have been living in gers – portable structures made of timber, felt and canvas. It is a perfect dwelling for the nomads. Yet, when this specific type of dwelling forms the basic unit of inhabitation for Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, it has led to unsustainable urban development, resulting in sprawling districts that lack basic urban infrastructure and contribute to toxic levels of air pollution in the city from coal burning stoves.

The report positions the Ger districts of Ulaanbaatar as a unique example of an informal, yet legal, settlement. It documents their spatial characteristics and mechanisms of growth and the impact of this urbanisation process. Based on this research, the creation of an incremental urban strategy for the Ger districts through the implementation of a series of architectural prototypes, sets out an alternative model for how these districts can be upgraded. As a more agile, bottom-up solution, it could offer much needed sustainable development solutions for the fringe districts of the city. As the ger district phenomenon is not just specific to Ulaanbaatar, but exists in every urban area of Mongolia, it could have widespread ramifications for the entire country.

Projects that were developed as part of the research include
Smart Collection Point
The Ger Plug-In
The Ger Innovation Hub

As well as in the following exhibitions
Settling the Nomads, Venice Biennale 2016
City of Nomads, Fear and Love,
London Design Museum, 2016
Ger Community Hub, Common Good,
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, 2018
Les usages du monde – New ways of the World, Lille Metropole 2020 World Design Capital
The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework,
The Canadian Center for Architecture, 2020
CLIMATE CARE Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures, Vienna Biennale for Change 2021

Download Research Report: Executive Summary and Research Report

The research project “Incremental Urbanism: Ulaanbaatar’s Ger Settlements” is funded by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.