If hybrid, electric and smart cars are the solution to oversized inefficient SUV’s then the yurt is one of the solutions to oversized and inefficient housing. The term “McMansion” became chic in the 90’s as a word to describe large homes constructed quickly with cheap prefab materials which give the appearance of substance and style but usually lacking both, kinda like a BigMac.
The yurt on the other hand has been around for about 800 years and is still widely used today. The natives of Central Asia created these sturdy, round, portable homes as a necessity of their nomadic lives in Mongolia, Siberia and parts of Russia. Traditional yurts are made with wooden lattice lashed together with leather straps and covered with sheep pelts and animal skins and bound together with a tension rope. At the center of the yurt is a sturdy wooden hoop called the compression ring. This skillfully crafted ring combines art and science as its role is to compress the roof rafters which rest on the lattice and thus create the tension that holds the roof and walls in place. Traditionally this hoop also served as a chimney allowing occupants to cook and heat their dwelling.
Current day yurts haven’t strayed far from this traditional design. The main differences are in the materials used; animal skins have been replaced by synthetic materials like vinyl coated canvas, the tension rope has been replaced with aircraft quality steel cable and the compression ring chimney is often capped with a domed skylight.
Enjoy part of my tour of the Spirit Mountain Yurts workshop.