Tents are amongst the earliest dwellings. Nomadic peoples made them 35,000 years ago from branches and animal furs or woven grass mats. Later, felted or woven textiles were also used. Some (semi-)nomadic peoples still live in tents, but they are also used as temporary structures for circus and theatre performances, and as shelter for soldiers and refugees. In contemporary textile architecture, designers are rediscovering both the basic shapes and construction principles of tents, although this time they are making use of innovative materials and techniques. The word tent is derived from the Latin tendere, meaning to stretch. A tent consists of a frame of poles covered with a flexible, often canvas skin secured with straps. Tents are an example of structurally smart, material-efficient and energy-saving construction. There are three traditional tent shapes that can be found from North Africa and Europe to Central Asia and North America.
The Designing Buildings Wiki features an article on the history of building with textiles: http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/The_history_of_fabric_structures
A tepee is a conical tent used by the Plains Indians of North America. Related shapes can also be found in Siberia and Lapland. The covering – often buffalo hides or cotton – is stretched over a skeleton of wooden poles that are drawn together near the top to form a cone.
Video Brooklyn Museum
A story on the images on a tipi, which have special meanings, bu the Museum of the American Indian. On the Canadian Encyclopedia you can find the article Architectural History: Early First Nations.
A Bedouin tent is also known as a ‘black tent’, because of the black goat’s hair used to make the loosely woven covering. The canvas is stretched over three central poles of different heights to create a sloping roof. This type of tent can be found from North Africa to India. Kristina Ambrosch made a movie on the black tent at the Yoruk nomads of West Turkey.
A yurt is the traditional dwelling of nomads from Turkey to Mongolia. It consists of a circular wooden frame with a domed roof and a felted sheep’s wool covering. Read more on the Karakalpak nomads living in Uzbekistan, one of the nomadic people living in Yurts, on the website of David en Sue Richardson.
Camping as recreation started at the enth of the 19th century. The English taylor Thomas Holding designed a small tent.
'Real' Dutch campers camp in a De Waard.
For extreme camping, use a Portaledge:
Find more examples of tents on: http://www.designboom.com/tag/tents/
A small and beautiful book on tents is Simple shelters:
Jantiene van Elk
Images via https://commons.wikimedia.org/ and websites of publishers.