Yurt Living: Dome, Cupola or Spire?

Every yurt has a central compression ring. The exterior finale is typically a dome. Yet there are some options that may surprise you.

A yurt cupola is especially nice for tropical environments. Claire Wolfe, who wrote about her yurt building for Backwoods Home Magazine, replaces the dome skylight for a cupola. She utilized a powder-coated steel frame with an architectural fabric cover. The cupola was raised six inches around the perimeter. As a result, there’s shade and a natural cooling system with maximum air flow.

If you select a less expensive dome instead, Claire recommends it open and close, — not be fixed. She emphasizes how important it is for that airflow on hot summer days. “The skylight is a big feature of yurt living,” she adds, “both for utility and beauty because you’ll probably spend many hours admiring and appreciating it.”

Stanley McGaughey shares his yurt building at Tug Hollow in New York state online. He notes that a spire is architectural and a cupola is functional. Pictured are with both aspects, — interior and exterior. In summary, the architectural roof is vented.

Eco Design in Australia offers plans for octagonal yurt building kits. Pictured is the interior view of a windowed cupola which optimizes air flow.

For a minor fee, you can purchase the How to Build a Yurt Fact Sheet from the Center for Alternative Technology. The illustrated DIY guide is illustrated by experienced builder Steve Place. This fact sheet is available to download. The Australian center offers solutions to some of the most serious challenges facing our planet and the human race. Yurt living is one practical way they address such problems.

Enthusiasts please never forget Becky Kemery, author of Yurts: Living in the Round. She pops up from my Internet searches frequently answering queries and contributing advice on forums. If you have a specific yurt question, she’s the Queen! Yet feel free to send feedback below regarding this or related posts. And remember, your local yurt experts probably provide custom construction needs.

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Written by Delia Montgomery

I am Delia, d/b/a Chic Eco on, and established myself as an eco fashion guru by learning "who makes what in the world of environmental fashion and design."

Enjoy reading some of my freelance writing about environmental design, fashion and art -- from both consumer and supplier perspectives. You may notice I focus most on individual eco designers, movers and shakers.

From sustainable fashion apparel to paint and flooring, discoveries are a rush. I get my kicks this way. I also offer sales representation of earth-friendly designed products for wholesale buyers. Retailers may take advantage of my services with factory-direct pricing. Spend less time sourcing and prevent green-washed purchases!

My other forte is connecting suppliers with business-to-business tools. Aspects of my business vary with consulting services while I'm proud to be the aide that embraces unique and innovative gigs.

I'm originally a Kentucky Blue Grass gal who relocated to Maui early 2006 and the tropical Puna District of Big Island, Hawaii late 2007. Walk the talk is my motto here.

Early 2009 I constructed a yurt home office in a semi-urban setting on a tiny lot. My water comes from the sky, contained in a catchment that's not likely to dry in this rain forest. The electric is designed for solar conversion. I grow about 30% of my food organically, compost, and recycle to the hilt. Permaculture with a full eco system is my gardening style.

In fact, gardening is my ultimate joy. I seek gigs like design, weeding and planting between other jobs. My love is Hawai'i which has more climate zones than any state. There are frequent earthquakes here, typically under a 3.0 magnitude, and I happen to dig the vibrations. It's a wonderful simple life in paradise. As I grow older and wiser, I become more and more grateful.

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