Gallery: Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses – and Why it Still Makes ...

Round buildings use less wall, floor and roof mate­ri­als to enclose the same square footage as a rec­tan­gu­lar struc­ture. 15 to 20% less mate­r­ial is used to cre­ate the same square foot build­ing com­pared to a rec­tan­gu­lar design!

Wind and tsunami waves move naturally around a round building rather than getting caught at (and potentially ripping off) corners. A rounded roof avoids ‘air-planing’- a situation where a strong wind lifts the roof structure up and off of the building.

There are dozens of interconnected points in a round home. These are sites where builders can connect parts of the building together. In the olden days, the connecting materials were rope, vine and hides. Modern materials are  engineered components- like a center radial steel ring,  steel brackets, Seismic and hurricane ties, bolts and steel cables. These connect the structural pieces and give the building a unique combination of flexibility and strength- qualities which causes them to be significantly safer in severe weather conditions like earth quakes, extreme winds and heavy snow­fall.


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  1. Luie Roldan September 30, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I love how they do that

  2. auie September 30, 2014 at 8:15 am

    I’m very sorry.
    These houses were round just because it was the only way to build them. Please, how do you want to have a rectangular shaped teepee?
    There were other ancient houses which were rectangular for instance in Egypt, middle East or Europe.
    Therefore most of the remarks like “Because the ovid shape- egg, earth, tree trunks, stones — is what they saw reflected in the surrounding natural environment” are stupid, like this article.

  3. Moni Castaneda September 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Only one-room (per floor) round homes actually work from the architectural and Feng Shui viewpoint. When you subdivide the spaces inside with walls you end up with strange angles, and spaces between walls and furniture where dust collects.

  4. Janine Sanders September 9, 2014 at 6:01 am

    An article in support of round/curved architecture! I’ve researched this concept within the body of my degree, purely focusing on the benefits of round/curved School Buildings, where the psychology/design and architecture form a union of working parts, like the mechanism of a clock. Looking back through history, the science behind the design supports this idea whilst contributing on a practical level for environmental benefits. I can never understand why schools should become a uniformed lifeless box again, especially when so much information and technology is available. Children will not reach their full potential to explore and grow stuck in an enclosed box! – A square box in a round hole?

  5. Rula September 6, 2014 at 3:03 am

    I am an architect so, keep me posted!

  6. NigelReading|ASYNSIS September 6, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Why nature prefers circles? Optimal Flow – as just presented at TEDx Wanchai.

  7. Halûk Uluhan August 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    A circle is the economic, material-saving brother of a square. You need less material like bricks by a round-shaped building, while using the same amount of area.

  8. Holly Reed August 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I grew up in a round house. In our city, it was so unusual, that it was “the” round house. We (as a family) just lost our amazing round house to a reverse mortgage that our now-elderly parents added over a decade ago before they both developed dementia. It was a much more emotional loss than I thought it would be. As a kid, all I wanted was to have a “normal” house like my friends, because ours drew a lot of attention, a lot of strangers just rang the doorbell and asked to look around (that was a big ole “NO” btw), and as soon as someone learned I lived in “That Round House” it was all they wanted to talk about. Now that I\\\’m grown and it\\\’s gone, I miss it.

  9. Melissa Kriger February 8, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Of course they did! Our ancestors were aware of the harmony and synergy of sacred geometry and built to reflect this truth. :D

  10. lolli19 September 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I think these are gorgeous!

  11. BobWet May 1, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Here is a 2008 Round House in Ireland:

  12. rachel ross August 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Hi bthinker- Your project sounds really interesting! I agree that adding submerged floors increases the functionality of the space combined with the hexagonal shape- check out our website at for other examples. Thanks for your comments!~Rachel

  13. robdude robdude August 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Just when we think we no it all, only to find out our ancestors had it pegged a thousand years back. Why am I not surprised!

  14. bthinker bthinker August 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    A very advanced Shelter I’ve been working on for years put this compression effect and centerpiece cooling to use. I’m making a downward spiraling biodome of sorts. I agree though, I see anything that’s not round/oval as a primitive box. I believe a house also needs to have submerged floors though to complete the funcionality of the dome shape efficiency, a hexagon works best for the sub floors with the correct support system as a round basement would easily cave but a hexagon done right can bounce impact to the adjacent walls.

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