Bana by Jenny Chou

Bana is a recreation of the traditional Tibetan yak tent in Kvadrat Molly 2. Bana is the word for black tent in the Tibetan pasture area. The nomads of the Tibetan plateau live in close connection with nature. They have lived in their tents, woven from yak yarn, for as long as anyone can remember. But this way of life is disappearing. Typically, they will tend to move with their animals every few weeks or months in the summer and build a more permanent camp in winter.

Tibetan nomads say that, when viewed from a distance, their tents resemble the silhouette of a grazing yak. The herders describe the yaks as “nuo”, which means treasure – and with good reason. They cannot survive without these animals, which provide them with clothes, blankets, food, fuel, transport and more.

Chou has designed the Bana tent for use by one or two people; in the centre is a trunk, made from Re-wool, which displays the raw materials and tools used in making the tent. Although small in size, the tent is made using traditional techniques. Four variations of Molly 2 textile are cut into 35cm-wide strips, the same width as traditional handwoven yak fabric, then stitched together to give a patchwork appearance. Molly 2, deriving from a worsted yarn from Norwegian sheep, was chosen for the delicacy of its natural look, a material in sympathy with yak yarn

The threads and ropes are made from handspun yak hair and the wooden tent poles are recycled from an old tent. In making this piece, Chou partnered with Yargey, a co-operative dedicated to reviving the yak fabric culture, based in Litang County in the southwest of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, part of China’s Sichuan province.

The nomads’ black tents exemplify the core principles of reuse and regeneration, and Chou found working with the Tibetan community to be an education on how traditional practices and beliefs are relevant to contemporary discussions about sustainability. 

Jenny Chou

Born in Taiwan, Jenny Chou co-founded the multi-disciplinary Atlas studio in 2015 with two fellow architecture graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design.

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