The yurt has transformed much from its origins with the Mongolian nomads 2000 years ago to a source of sustainable living in the western world today. Once a portable, wood lattice framed, felt covered dwelling, you can now buy yurts online or find directions for building your own.
A Quick History
The yurt, or ger as nomads of Mongolia call their home, consists of a large, wooden lattice frame with a door, roof poles and a crown. It is basically one large rounded open space. The dwelling is covered with felt which is made from the wool of the flocks of sheep that travel with the nomads.
In this area of the world, temperatures stick to the bitter extremes. The yurt is perfectly engineered to handle this weather. When the bitter winter comes around, the circular shape of the yurt leaves the least exterior space exposed, making it more efficient for heat and less exposed to wind. More felt can be added to the dwelling for extra warmth. Equally in the summer, the architecture of the yurt allows it to stay cool.
Added benefits of this dwelling include a quick half an hour set up time and easy collapsibility. Once the home is collapsed it can be placed on the backs of yaks and other animals to make for easy transport.
In the 1960's a man named Bill Copperthwaite began designing and building yurts in California. The trend soon caught on and the design of the original yurt evolved dramatically. Today, vinyl laminate or weatherized fabrics are used for the outside of the home and it is insulated with astro-foil which reflects 85% of the heat back into the yurt. These houses, though still portable, can take a whole day to erect and are made to be permanent.
People now use yurts for vacation homes and guest houses, schoolrooms, and camping shelters on state parks, as well as permanent residences. It offers an alternative space for those who would like to live simply, and close to the Earth. It is a beautiful ambience of wood lattice and skylights, open space and curves.
In addition, Yurts are extremely affordable and range from only $5000-$15,000. Of course, you need a plot of land on which to place the yurt with a well and electricity. However, if you live in an expensive region (such as California), Yurts are a much cheaper option than buying a house. They are also extremely inexpensive to heat and cool because of their design.
Yurts are an example of energy efficient alternative housing that can be used for just about anything. They can be used as inspiration for an artist or a workshop for a crafts, or even as a beautiful home. They are spacious, peaceful regions that offer a new, rounded vision to a decidedly square society.