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Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses – and Why it Still Makes Sense to Build Round Structures Today

Posted By Rachel Ross On August 13, 2012 @ 6:00 am In Architecture,carousel showcase,Features,Sustainable Building | 14 Comments

circular building, yurt, round home, mandala home, wood panel round house [7]

Wind and tsunami [8] 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 [9] 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.

hurricane ties, roof trusses for round roof, engineered scissor trusses, simpson ties [10]

The roof structure incorporates a unique architectural design that has its origins in the mountain steppes of Central Asia. Roof trusses meet in a center ring, producing inward and outward pressure which holds the roof in a state of compression. In modern round buildings using the ancient Yurt [6] design, 1-3 airplane grade steel cables circle the outer perimeter where the trusses meet the wall and hold the natural outward thrust. Because of this combination of a central compression ring at the top of the roof and the encircling cables where the roof meets the walls, long roof spans are possible without any internal support system (like beams or posts). The interconnected tension in the building goes all the way to the ground and uses gravity and compression to hold it together with incredible strength.

The natural ther­mal dynam­ics [11] of open-at-the-top architecture round space uses no external energy to circulate temperature. It works like this; heated air naturally rises till it reaches the insulated ceiling, it moves up the domed ceiling till it reaches the center skylight, which is cooler, the air reacts by dropping to the floor where it moves across to the walls and rises again till it meets the skylight and drops again. This action constantly circulates the air and temperatures in the home.

building round houses, round home construction, less waste [12]

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! This means the possibility for a smaller eco-footprint and more living space for less cost. It also means less sur­face area in con­tact with adverse weather con­di­tions, which improves the over­all dura­bil­ity and energy effi­ciency of the home.

The acoustics [13] of round space can be out of this world. The curve soft­ens the sounds inside the build­ing mak­ing it the per­fect place for rest and reflec­tion or for social­iz­ing and lis­ten­ing to and play­ing music (…think long winter evenings of storytelling around the central fire….) The shape also pre­vents noise from pen­e­trat­ing in from the out­side. Sound waves dis­si­pate as they wrap around the build­ing, shield­ing the interior from loud out­side noise.
modern day yurt, circular house, round buildings, [14]

Our ancestors also understood a round home quality that is less measurable than the intelligent use of energy, the clever space allocation and the powerful and natural movement of air and sound. David Raitt, yurt builder [15], describes it “Circular living provides a balance of looking inward and outward, looking out at the natural environment and surroundings but then coming in again to the self and the hearth.”  You might call it curve appeal.

A 21st century home built with modern materials can be a safe, energy efficient , healthy-living-by-design House of the Future that Comes from the Past!


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/

URLs in this post:

[1]

: http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/round-houses/?extend=1

[2]  : http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/navajo_indian_huts_monum_48f59f5e187bc/?extend=1

[3] Hogan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogan

[4] Mongolian Yurt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurt

[5] Teepee: http://inhabitat.com/7-cozy-tipis-and-yurts-that-make-you-feel-right-at-home/

[6] round buildings: http://inhabitat.com/an-inhabitat-writer-shares-her-experience-building-her-own-sustainable-yurt-in-the-woods/

[7] Image: http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/33-mandala/

[8] tsunami: http://inhabitat.com/japanese-tsunami-dock-hits-oregon-beach-with-army-of-alien-species-attached/

[9] Seismic: http://www.strongtie.com/products/connectors/h.asp

[10] Image: http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/resized2/

[11] ther­mal dynam­ics: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/heatra.html

[12] Image: http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/merkel-1/

[13] acoustics: http://inhabitat.com/charming-giant-sculpture-aeolus-makes-wind-audible-in-london/

[14] Image: http://inhabitat.com/why-our-ancestors-built-round-houses-and-why-it-still-makes-sense-to-build-round-structures-today/hp-photosmart-720/

[15] yurt builder: http://www.yurtpeople.com

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