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What is a yurt?

A yurt is a portable, lightweight round structure where the roof is held up under a combination of tension and compression.

Traditionally yurts were used by nomadic people in Central Asia, such as the Mongolians, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz. Yurts have a wooden frame, typically made of bentwood, and are covered in felt or canvas. The frame consists of a circular lattice wall, roof poles, and a central compression ring, which supports the roof. The walls of the yurt are often insulated with wool felt, and the roof is waterproofed with canvas or felt. A smoke hole at the center of the roof allows for ventilation and the use of a stove or fireplace inside.

Yurts are easy to set up and take down, making them ideal for nomadic life, but they are also popular for use as semi-permanent dwellings, vacation homes, and glamping accommodations in modern times.

Modern yurt manufacturers like Secret Creek (Colorado Yurt Company) still use the basic design principles of old – round shapes, lattice walls, roofs held up under tension and compression – but manufacture using high-tech, modern materials. Long-lasting waterproof outer fabrics, lightweight space-age insulation, steel fasteners, and graded lumber all combine to allow modern yurts to have much higher snow and wind load ratings than traditional yurts while lasting much longer.

Today, yurts are used for both personal and commercial uses. People are discovering the financial freedom of living in a yurt as their full-time residence, while businesses are finding how cost-effective they can be. A yurt’s relatively low cost and environmental footprint, when compared to “normal” construction methods, make them an attractive alternative sustainable living shelter around the world.

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