Rachel Ross: Meet our house, the Magnolia 2300. It’s a three bedroom, round, passive solar home located in the lush green forest of Nelson, B.C. Canada. Myself, my husband Lars, and our 15 year old daughter, Poppy, designed our house using Slow Home principles for building houses that are healthy, designed to exactly fit the inhabitants and are gentle on the environment. The design was ‘slow’ but the construction process was quick because we pre-fab built the wall panels off-site with the insulation, doors, windows and siding included. Prefab-ulous!
Some glowing benefits of prefab are a lower environmental impact on the site and less construction waste. It goes up fast, and a speed build to weather-tight means that no valuable building materials were adversely affected by rain and snow — which happens in many places, but especially in Canada through the winter. We started pouring the concrete for the ICF foundation in the fall of 2011 and we moved in 150 days later.
This is the first ENERGY STAR Qualified home in B.C., which means that it uses 30% less energy to function as an incredibly comfortable living space. In addition to a passive solar design — 10” thick walls and “tuned” windows — it’s wrapped in a 3” blanket of Roxul Rock Wool. It has a continuous air-sealed envelope that includes the insulated doors and Low E windows. The walls are an R34 and the ceiling is a whopping R66. The whole house has an EnerGuide rating of 84. This means that our family can head to bed on a winter’s evening with the household temperature at 20 degrees C (68 F) and when we rise in the morning the household temperature is 19 degrees C (66 F).
The house is also a round home, meaning that it literally “embraces” the human beings who reside within it. Lars has been building round homes since 2000 and this home is his culminating dream home. Every aspect is designed to perfectly match the needs of our family.
Why round? As Lars says, “Living in the round is a way of living more closely with nature. Everything around us is round- the moon, the earth, eggs in a nest, the trunks of trees. As a lifelong nature enthusiast, I want my home to connect me with nature, not separate me from nature.”
We recently spoke with a beekeeper who reported that her group was experimenting with round shaped bee hives (as compared to the conventional rectangular beehives), she said that the beesin the round hives were less aggressive, more healthy and produced more honey than the same variety of bees in rectangular hives. Just like the bees, we experience greater harmony, more creativity and more flow by living in our round home. And, we love the fact that the natural thermal dynamics of a round space contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the space.
A visitor’s first indication of the “GREENness” this house comes from their nose. It smells like beeswax, non-VOC Yolomilk paint and soycrete stain. The floors are non-formaldahyde floating cork which is neutral in temperature and astonishingly springy. The cork on the kitchen floor is finished with ceramic designed to naturally protect from potential moisture.
The countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms are patterned bamboo finished with beeswax. The wood used for the timberframe details is locally sourced fir and the wide stair planks are crafted from salvaged wood. There are connected outdoor rooms and every room has natural lighting from skylights and suntubes.
No living trees were cut down to create the space to build this house, there was a natural round opening in the forest of grand fir trees that perfectly fit the 31’ diameter round center with 12’ wide radiating wings of the Magnolia design.
Our home is also an art home — when you wander around the house, you’ll see details like a Japanese Spirit Post in the living room, an inlaid pebble stream in the entryway, a custom Bamboo marquetry door, Shoji doors throughout the home, curved hallways and stairwells, handmade handrail brackets, niche-like window seats, Italian Porcelain in the ensuite spa, and a kitchen deck that has a 300 hundred year old Ponderosa Pine tree growing through it.
It’s one of four round buildings on our 1.5 acre property, which includes a round studio, a round garage, and a round greenhouse. For us, this is an ongoing projectthat promises to keep sprouting up round, green and energy efficient structures for years to come!
+ Mandala Homes
Fantastic looking design! I like the look of it. Yurt in style built with traditional building materials. We’d been thinking of putting a cabin on our property in the country but discovered people living in canvas yurts and we liked the idea so we went that route. We purchased a 49ft yurt kit from simpleterra.com/yurt-kits/ for $42,460. The total square footage is 2164. I built a platform and deck for it to be on, keep it off the ground from rain and heating is better. I added insulation between the joists to retain heat. I think the total cost of just the build and yurt kit was around $55,000. Last year we added solar panels. Our yurt can’t handle the weight on the roof so we have a row of them on the ground. We’d dug a well years ago so it was fairly easy to run plumbing.
Beautiful home! We dream of building a yurt someday, and these are such inspiring photos, thank you!
Great house. Americans and Canadians certainly know how to build beautiful homes. If I had the money I would build one in a heartbeat! But my dream home is a log cabin/home. Thanks for sharing xo
hi my daughter introduce me to the yurt i really love your house it looks very peaceful and that is exactly what i\'m looking for.
Great house! It is built just behind where I used to live on the Heddle ranch. A foal was born just on the area behind the old grafting orchard, right where I believe your house to be on West Heddle Road. We went up to check the pregnant mare because she didn't come down to feed, and there she was, nuzzling her new born foal just at the base of the hill there, behind the grafting orchard. We used to have lots of bears in that orchard in the Autumn. One time I saw a lynx there shyly looking out of the bracken. Great place for your house, good job. Glad you kept the green spaces, and your Magnolia 2300 home is an amazing design. Your location choice couldn\\\'t have been better chosen.
I love this and will investigate further to see if someone can help me build this in Ontario!
How do I get more details. Love to do this!
I live in Arizona, and would like tobuild one last home in a lush area in the desert foothills of the Catalina mountains. how suited is this home for the desert cimate. where can I get a copy of your plans. i will have to pull permits. thank you, kent tyrrell ([email protected])
Love this house! I live in a traditional yurt and it is cold! Would really like to know more about how you built the insulated walls, etc., if you decide to share your plans.
What was the cost of this home Very interested in the plans!
I absolutely love the design...are there plans for this home?
Excellent 'green' construction. I was wondering about the results of a house like this one, expense wise. The energy bills for utility usage these days is ridiculous, if you ask me! From extensive studying, far and beyond, it seems that having all the ideal 'green' techs, solar panels, water catchment and filtration systems for reuse, and recycled materials for housing construction seem to really slash down the bills...
Hi Betsyjane- I'm glad that you took a moment of your time to ask your questions about this project, thank you! This home is 2300 sq.ft., the price tag of $100/sq.ft. is for the Mandala portion- which does not include finishing costs- the Mandala portion is the shell-to-weathertight; the wall systems, floor and roof systems, insulation and siding, doors and windows. The finishing costs are very client specific (ie; granite counter-top or Formica counter-top- so, there is a huge cost difference depending on the choices of the owner, as you can imagine. Our finishing costs on this project were about double per sq. ft. If you would like more information , for example; What's Included in a Mandala Kit. I encourage you to contact [email protected] Thanks for your interest!~Rachel
You say that it costs about $100 per sq. foot. How many square feet is this home?? I really just want to know how much this particular home cost for you guys to build. It's beautiful, I love that it is easy on the environment. BUT, is it less expensive, aside from the energy costs?
Hi ecomeruhomes- I'm super glad that you like this project and find it inspiring for your construction juices! Wonderful! ~Rachel
WOW - i love your new home - it's absolutely gorgeous and in i bet, a beautiful location... :o) it just looks perfectly harmonious with its surroundings and i wish you many, many happy years in it...
WOW!!! This is incredibly beautiful!!! I see us having one of these in Meru, Kenya. Thank you for inspiring my construction juices to flow!!!
Hello dwyerj- Thanks for your interest in our buildings! We are a prefab company and we build and ship these structures as kits in panels (and more) with a set-up manual and onsite or phone support- primarily because of the complexity of the round , we want to be closely connected with the projects-more connected than just selling the plans. Does that make sense? If you are still interested, check out our website at www.mandalahomes.com or email [email protected] for more information. Thanks, Rachel
Are there plans available? From whom? Cost?
B. U. Tful home...please tell me where I can get the floor plan. thank you, alana
Hi H. Stallings- Thanks! Glad you like it....we do too! There are floor plans and more photos posted on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.422360887781646.97843.122318114452593&type=3. The 2 bedrooms upstairs (one is used as a study) were created in the radiating 12' wings that span out from half of the center round space. The downstairs bedroom is located in the circular part of the house. There are 2 1/2 bathrooms, as you can see on the floorplans. Enjoy browsing!~Rachel
This home is stunning! I am interested in how you created 3 bedrooms, and how many bathrooms. Is the floor plan posted somewhere? thx!
This place is the coolest! I absolutely LOVE it.
Hi Earthgirl- A structure like this is similar in cost to a regular build; about $98 sq.ft. for the building to lock-up- the finishing costs would approx $100 sq.ft , depending on choices for materials. The savings in energy cost for this building is 30% per year! ~ Rachel
Hi Earthgirl- The cost for building a house like this is similar to the cost for a regular build- between $65-$95 sq. ft for the shell to lock-up, and approx $100 sq. ft for finishing costs, depending on choices of materials. The savings in energy costs is significant- about 30% per year! ~Rachel
Hi Desmond- You bring up an important point. I have super sensitive ears, so sound quality is a high priority for me! The structures that we build have the look and feel of a round space, but they are , in fact, faceted- in this house the walls are 6' wide, the windows and ceiling are curved and the acoustics are lovely. We've actually provided a number of Mandala's for musicians who use it as a recording or concert space. Thanks for your input!~Rachel
How much does a house like this cost to build?
beautiful - do you have acoustic problems with the curved walls and ceiling making echoes?