Thursday, August 6, 2009


We've been really into the idea of Yurts lately. Not only because of a recent fascination with Mongolia (Cave of the Yellow Dog,anyone?).
Well, partly because of that. But for other reasons, too.
I like the circular aspect. The Shakers built circular barns-- not to give the Devil a corner to hide in, at least that's what I've heard. Strangely reminiscent of certain Feng Shui principles of not having places for chi to stagnate (I guess it's strange, maybe there is some well-known link between American Shakers and the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui-- I admit to not knowing much else about the Shakers besides their enthusiasm for round buildings and nice, sturdy furniture).

A huge difference between these round buildings and a yurt is portability-- unlike Shakers, Mongolians are an historically nomadic people, so yurts are traditionally a very portable structure.

There are a few manufacturers of yurts in the US (Yurt is actually a Russian word, Ger is the Mongolian name). The 30' (diameter) is about 700 square feet- more than enough room! Okay, maybe not more than enough, but enough. Especially if you live in the vast, open stretches of the steppes of Mongolia, or, more likely for us, a big field.
A Mongolian yurt.
A Mongolian yurt on the inside.

There's plenty on the internet about yurts, and all different types, from fancy-pants yurts like these:

to simple yurts like this one:

and even this American adaptation of a yurt (with perhaps a little inspiration from Tolkien- note the grass roof and round roof door) : (this one is neat. Not technically a yurt, but still neat.)

Here are some step-by-step photos for the setting up of a typical yurt.

The prices vary from place to place, and there are lots of extras you can get (insulation, thicker roof canvas, extra windows/doors, composting toilets, woodstoves, &c.) but seems like a standard 30 footer would run you in the neighborhood of $8-10,000.
They supposedly last for years, and you can replace the canvas as needed-- most sites say their roofs are guaranteed for 15 years.

How about a tree yurt? (I'm guessing the round decking is on top of the square support, otherwise, well, you'd fall out the sides, wouldn't you?)

A bright, colorful tree yurt!

And a well-made yurt can withstand a pretty decent (I might even say "brutal") winter.

We're also big fans of the tipi. I mean, who isn't? Again, I like the circular set up. I had a friend that house-sat at a house with a tipi, a big one like these, and it was really cool. Maybe we could have one as our "guest room." Anyone want to come visit?