Tents – The Beginning of Architecture

On the Culture Show tonight. All architecture begins with the tent. Tents are what humans lived in before we put down roots and began our love affair with bricks and mortar.

And no-one is more obsessed with solid, heavy, permanent buildings than the British. To us, the tent is something flimsy and temporary that we will only endure bedding down in on rare occasions.

But has civilisation – and architects in particular – unfairly overlooked the brilliant, efficient design of the tent? In an overcrowded world faced with a housing crisis and dwindling natural resources, could the tent be the answer? Tom Dyckhoff thinks it could well be.

As festival season begins, Tom’s freewheeling journey into the secret life of the tent takes him back to the origins of human habitat: the yurts and tipis of our nomadic past, to the German mecca of high-tech, cutting-edge tensile architecture and to the spiritual home of the modern peace camp where the tent became a symbol of political resistance.

Along the way he discovers that our acceptance of the tent and our openness to alternatives to traditional stone and brick buildings is all a state of mind. The homes of the future could be fabric for all of us.

Lexi Elven worked on the following compositing shot within the programme: