Al Madam Village, built in the 1970s, aimed to sedentarise and modernise a nomadic way of life — a mode of existence that was in contrast with the formation of a new nation-state. Today these houses are abandoned, taken over by the shifting sands.

Placed in this locality, the “Concrete Tent” is an experimental architectural preservation project that deals with the paradox of permanent temporariness. Made out of a repurposed solid wood frame and a concrete-like applique, it is a hybrid between a mobile tent and a concrete house; temporariness and permanency; movement and stillness; soft and hard. Permanent temporariness is a condition of dislocation and relocation caused by political, economic, and environmental changes, depriving people of the possibility to act and engage with the present. Either stuck in a nostalgic idea of a lost past or projected into an idealized future, the present seems inaccessible, and lives seem to be temporarily suspended.

Expanding the conceptual scope, one of Al Madam’s modernist buildings is enveloped by jute fabric — typically used in tent construction. Here, architectural preservation is understood not as an instrument for permanency but as a method of re-narrating this intervention as a permanent temporariness heritage site. In dialogue with the modernist ruins, the new layer of jute is reminiscent of both ancient forms of nomadic life and the present condition of permanent temporariness experienced by today’s migrant populations.

Over time, the “Concrete Tent” will also be taken over by the town’s dunes, an inevitable reminder of the beauty of impermanence.

Concrete Tent