City Nomads

Atomik Architecture, Astana , 2017


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In 2015 Atomik Architecture with the British Council Kazakhstan co-founded a project called City Nomads. Now in its third year, City Nomads is an ongoing project inviting a new generation of Kazakhstani creatives to investigate the cultural identity of Kazakhstan’s nomadic past to make sense of its future for the modern-day nomad. The initiative is an attempt to imagine an environment that would surround today’s city nomad.

In its first incarnation, City Nomads culminated in an exhibition at the British Council’s offices in London during the London Design Festival in September 2016, showcasing the work of a group of young Kazakhstani designers. Atomik Architecture both curated and designed the exhibition, which covered fashion, product design, graphic design, publishing, film and architecture.

Following the success of the first exhibition in London the programme was expanded. The second iteration of the project brought together and commissioned designers and artisans to create six new objects which encapsulate city nomads and the cultural codes that inform their lives. The exhibition was not only a collaboration between emerging designers and craftspeople but also with curators, academics and exhibition designers in the UK who helped to set the curatorial brief. The brief for the designers focused on the resourceful, transformable, transportable and multi-functional design approach found in both historical and contemporary objects.

Originally imagined as a ‘Chest of Future Memories’ within which the entire exhibition could be packed down into a box reminiscent of chests given to newlyweds in nomadic society - Atomik Architecture with Sarah Stallard drew inspiration from the lattice structure of nomadic yurts to design an exhibition which could spring up in new locations and formations across Kazakhstan as quickly as the nomadic dwellings of the past.

The second edition of City Nomads opened at the National Museum of The Republic of Kazakhstan between June and August 2017 and ran in parallel with Expo 2017 Astana as part of the Cultural Expo. It is currently exhibiting at Almaty Tower’s SmArt Point Space. A third programme for City Nomads is currently being developed.


  • Begun: Jun 2017
  • Completed: Jun 2017
  • Floor area: 100m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £30,000
  • Funding: Chevron
  • Tender date: May 2017
  • Procurement: Bespoke
  • CO2 Emissions: -kg/m2/year
  • Address: National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Tauelsizdik Ave 54, Astana , 010000, Kazakhstan

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