The not-so-traditional Tent

With traditional tents, refuge and shelter from the wild were the primary design drivers; a clear definition between indoors and outdoors. Our clients today are looking for tents with a greater integration of space and environment, especially within their pristine landscapes.

The not-so-traditional House

In architecture there is a status quo – a visible distinction between safe, comfortable structures and unpredictable, wild outside spaces. Today, our clients are looking for light structures that perform like a house with the ambience of a tent.

To craft such spaces successfully, we must challenge our preconceived ideas between inside and outside. We develop from first principles these hybrid spaces with new materials, design strategies and structural forms – an evolved inside-outside tented architecture driven by the need for an immersive, and transformative guest experience.

Orientation & Positioning

The orientation of the units, will influence everything from the sense and comfort of the space to fabric longevity. The sun’s light intensity, for example, will vary quite dramatically over the course of the day and season. When planning the layouts of camps, we position the structures to take full advantage of the views and local habitats, as well as to mitigate unwanted climate effects such as prevailing winds, rain and sun passage.

Space Dynamics

Our natural design approach does focuses on living space as the heart of tented architecture. By balancing the use of spaces, we create tented camps that bring guests closer to nature. We classify tented camp design within five space dynamics;
lifestyle, transitional, positive, negative and harmonious space.

Lifestyle Space

Traditionally, spaces have been classified through language as – us (inside) and them (nature outside). However, with tented architecture this is not as clear cut, there is a grey zone. New possibilities can now be created with what Tenthouse Structures term as “lifestyle” spaces – those liminal areas covered or enclosed (but not both) such as covered, sunken outdoor-lounge-decks, or outdoor-showers connected to the internal bathroom space.

Transition Space

Threshold areas blend between the tame man-made and the wild external.

A primary design intent in tented architecture is to nurture reconnection of all senses with the wild.

  • Large sliding windows and doors flowing seamlessly to deck-lounges.
  • Lightweight canvas walls and ceilings contribute by inverting our sense of being inside or outside.
  • Guests interact manually via controllable systems like roll up blinds and breeze panels.

All providing a user-customised sensory experience: views, natural light, sounds and smells of the wild, and fresh air – whilst retaining privacy and comfort.

Positive Space

Conscious design choices will strongly influence people to pause or hang around the planned internal spaces. This is achieved through 3 ‘sides in space’, typically comprised of a ceiling, wall and floor. If these critical design choices are not carefully thought through, the consequence might be to create dead, unused areas.

With inside-outside tented architecture, consideration may be given for one or more of these ‘sides in space’ to speak to the immersive guest experience as well as providing the welcoming refuge of traditional positive space. For example: a discrete view from the hot tub situated in a living room.

Negative Space

Design choices, if done correctly, will funnel people through the dark or
narrow spaces (hallways, corridors, paths etc.) as intended in order to
expedite guests to the positive spaces.

If done incorrectly, they will create “dark” zones inside a space that guests avoid at all costs, essentially a waste of building materials. Consideration must be given for which zones are experientially additive, as opposed to constrained. At Tenthouse Structures, we see this as an opportunity to create a journey, integral ‘links’ to the camp’s inside-outside architecture ‘chain’.

Harmonious Space

We believe in creating tented eco-developments that are positioned discreetly in the environment at large. Low impact, ephemeral spaces with an enduring legacy as opposed to permanent monumental structures. Legacy is achieved through cycles and rebirth as opposed to physical permanence. Our design cycle is built around a 10 to 20 year return period in the eco-hospitality industry.

We achieve this through lightweight, bionic and demountable strategies.


The lightweight characteristic of tension structures is attributable to pre-stressed natural forms rather than hard materials, in order to maintain their stability.


Our organic forms, colour palettes and textured materials blend into nature. Furthermore we employ the underlying structural principles governing these forms.


Our kit form structures are designed to be unbolted, disassembled, relocated and repurposed at the end of design life. Leaving nothing but footprints behind.

The flowing organic curves, the lightweight accommodation component, the engineered systems that offer privacy and protection against nature, all come together in unique luxurious harmony.

Tenthouse Structures