Open Call – Nomadic Living Experiment


The School, Milan Gillard and Stef Lemmens are searching for people to participate in a nomadic living experiment in the city of Hasselt. Together with three other people Milan and Stef want to manifest a modern day nomadic village that will travel around the city to initiate workshops, lectures, permaculture projects and neigborhood communities in which education and life are intertwined.

Milan Gillard founded AfT in the summer of 2021 in his own non-house. Within this organisation he focused on site specific collaborations as a main tool to give birth to new ideas. ‘What is a home? How can we live (tighter) together? How can it be shared?’ are some of the questions he focused on in his research.

Stef Lemmens has been building small homes and researching his own behavior while living inside them since 2019. In his latest project Walk Me Home (June, 2021) he walked around the city of Hasselt with his shopping cart home to start a dialogue about (small) living. Now he wants to take this nomadic approach to the next level.

Milan and Stef were also part of Crocodile Boulevard, a self-proclaimed street in which 5 people experimented with community building, small living, permaculture, self-sustainability and wellbeing. Within this street they realised the value of an experiment on living, but they were also confronted with government housing regulations that are hopelessly outdated. To continue their research on alternative ways of living they want to design and build a nomadic village of five people


1. Build your own mobile home

In a first stage you will be guided during a three month residency (Jan-Mar) in which you construct your own mobile house. You will discover your own essence of what a home can be and build a mobile living space which you can pull forward with your own strength. For this stage The School has an atelier space and tools (drill, saw, grind, welding… machines) in Hasselt, Belgium. You will be helped to find a second hand horse carriage that will be the starting point of your mobile home. This fundament is chosen because of the nomadic characteristics that it naturally has, for it is designed for a slow way of traveling without the use of electricity or fossil fuels. Each participant is responsible for finding or buying the building materials (wood, pipes, sink, screws, windows, doors, roofing…) that are necessary for the construction of the home. During the building process you will be encouraged to use as much waste and second hand material as possible for this will lower the total cost of construction by a significant amount. 

For his latest home Stef had a total construction cost of around € 2300. Below you will find a detailed description of all the building materials and objects that were used in the construction of his home. This is not a fixed list for each person has different needs and desires when it comes to living, but hopefully this can give some insights when building your own home. The cost of the machines is not included in this list for they are already purchased and are free to use by all participants. The cost of food is also not included but the whole group will strive to forage and grow most of their food in combination with fresh food they buy from the market to drop their cost of living. For the first three months of the residency The School asks for a contribution of 50 EUR/month which will cover the usage of water and electricity within the atelier space.



2. Research Environment & Activate Nomad Lands

In the second stage (Apr-Jun) the nomadic village will begin its journey within the city of Hasselt. The focus of this stage is to research our natural environment from an experimental point of view in order to achieve the primary and secondary needs of the group. What will be researched is therefore influenced by the interests of each individual. Stef, for example, has a strong fascination for nettles and the possibility to create textiles from their fibers. Milan wants to research how education can take place outside of the traditional school system. Maybe you are interested in learning which wild plants are edible and how to prepare them for a meal. Or you wish to build tools from wood and waste material we find on our way. When selecting the three participants it is desired to create a mix of characters with various complementary interests and disciplines. In all of the projects initiated there will be a trial-and-error attitude in which the group learns from their experiences, mistakes and interactions with each other and others. Another goal within this stage is to convince organizations, schools and neighborhoods to open up unused plots of land so they can be used to experiment with permaculture gardening and nomadic living. These ‘Nomad Lands’ will function as a web of small communities throughout the city from where the group can organize workshops, lectures, plant and harvest festivals with local neighborhoods… These locations will also be used as safe havens were the nomads can temporary settle down when traveling through the city. 


3. Reflection & Future Projects

In a third stage (Jun-Sept) we will reflect upon stage two and go into dialogue with the landowners of these Nomad Lands to discuss their potential for further projects. Can these lands be used to grow food for an entire neigborhood? Can we experiment further with permanent small living spaces? Can a new type of school emerge in which we better understand how we are dependent from our environment? In this stage we will also share our own commitment and desires within the project. Do you wish to continue this way of living? What more do you wish to explore within this research? Should we add more people to our nomadic village?  

This project asks for an enormous commitment but what you can receive in return is far more greater. You can be part of a team of community builders that uses permaculture as their tool to connect people. You can be part of a movement that no longer waits patiently for governments to make it easier to live simple, sustainable and affordable lives. You can be part of a protest-by-doing in which you walk with your house through the streets of Hasselt, instead of walking with protest signs in the streets of Brussels.. With this pioneer project we want to show people and governments that a new (old) way of living is possible in todays society, by simply injecting our energy and ideas into various parts of the city. 

If you wish to be part of this project, send an email before the 10th of December 2022 to in which you present yourself (skills, interests) and your motivation for participating in this project.