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Revolutionizing the design of compact space—Much like the Chevrolet Spark

By Diane Pham

Long gone are the days of coveting mini-mansions or tract homes with bland stucco exteriors. Americans who yearn for innovative, comfortable and efficient spaces are looking toward new scenarios for living that offer more than just four walls. Much like the Chevrolet Spark, the Mongolian yurt has revolutionized the design of compact space, transforming what was once a simple, portable shelter for nomads into a modern abode that promotes energy efficiency, conservation, and above all, a healthy living environment.

So what is it about the yurt that makes it so special?

Yurts have been a distinctive feature of life in Central Asia for at least 3,000 years. Even at their inception, they were extraordinarily innovative: constructed of few materials and employing a round form that relied simply on tension (roof trusses that met in a center ring) rather than numerous posts and beams. For the early Mongolians, this feat of elegantly minimalist design was also easily movable and able to meet all their needs—a perfect union of form and function.

Today, with the addition of modern materials, the yurt has been taken to a whole new level.

By their nature, round buildings are safer, more comfortable and more energy-efficient. Winds move easily across rounded structures, rather than putting force on corners and angled roofs, which can be ripped apart. And rounded open-at-the-top architecture is best able to harness the benefits of natural thermal dynamics, translating into perfectly regulated interior temperatures that don’t rely heavily on the constant blowing of a heater or air conditioner.

Moreover, according to modern yurt builder Mandala Homes, on average 15% to 20% less material is used to create a yurt than to create a more conventional building of the same size. The ability to prefabricate this home brings its environmental impact down even further. What you get with a yurt is a smaller carbon footprint and more living space at less cost. And in the face of climate change and other natural disasters, yurts and yurt-inspired structures have been proven to provide a level of safety that can’t always be met by other types of buildings—not to mention the fact that they can be constructed in just a few days!

But for those who live in yurts, what probably makes the structures most appealing is their uninterrupted interior space. In addition to being attractive visually, the circular shape promotes healthy airflow and superior acoustics, giving a warm depth to the sounds within. The roundness also prevents outside noise from intruding (sound waves dissipate as they wrap around the building).

So, are you keen to know firsthand what life is like in a yurt? We’ve got a few great ones in mind for you below. Next time you hit the open road in your surprisingly roomy Spark—31.2 cubic feet* of cargo space with the seats down and 86.8 cubic feet of maximum passenger space with the seats up—be sure to check into one of these amazing structures located across the United States:

Treebones Resort in Big Sur, CA

Adirondack Vacation Rentals at Upper St. Regis Lake, Adirondack Mountains, NY

Fallbrook Yurts in Minerva, NY

Never Summer Nordic in Walden, CO

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Diane Pham is a senior editor at Inhabitat and a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She tweets at @dianepham.


*Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution. Cargo volume with rear seats folded down.



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