20 reasons to build a Mandala Custom Homes net zero home

Interconnectedness. Wholeness. Mandala. Across time and cultures, the circle is a symbol of the interconnection of all things. It’s also the founding principle of the Mandala Homes round house building philosophy.

“If people do not have angles then we should not live in boxes,” proclaimed architect Charles Deaton. Drawing on the long and established history of round house building of many indigenous cultures, Deaton would construct his singular residential design in 1963 – a round home for himself called Sculptured House.

Throughout history, architects have been fascinated with round design. In the 16th century, influenced by the shapes of Greek and Roman structures, architect Andrea Palladio was obsessed with the circle as the perfect form. His rounded architecture was thought to epitomize balance and harmony. Founding Father of the United States, diplomat, and architect, Thomas Jefferson designed his famous rotunda at the University of Virginia to represent the “authority of nature and power of reason”, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

Across the globe, and right here at home, indigenous cultures relied on round architecture for structural strength and efficient use of materials.

village pit house

As uniquely beautiful as the grand Greek- and Roman-inspired examples may be, when it comes to form, function and efficiency, we can simply examine indigenous versions to understand why round homes are a superior design.

Interestingly, we don’t have to look any further than Mandala Homes’ own back door to unearth some incredible remnants of indigenous round house building.

lemon creek pithouse site 1

In fact, there is a remarkable pit house archaeological site in the vicinity of nearby Lemon Creek. For several years, students from the archaeology program at Hamilton College in New York State and the anthropology program at Selkirk College in Castlegar have been exploring dig results at four separate sites along the Slocan River, each significant in the prehistory of the Sinixt people (pronounced “Sin-eye-kst”, meaning “People of the Place of Bull Trout”).

A pit house, typically a winter residence, is constructed with floors lower than the ground surface and varying from flat to bowl-shaped; sometimes prepared and sometimes not. The superstructure consists of low earthen walls built from the excavated soil; stone foundations with brush walls; or posts with wattle and daub chinking.

The roof of a pit house is generally flat and made of brush, thatch, or planks, and entry was gained by way of a ladder through a hole in the roof. Light and warmth is delivered by way of a central hearth with a simple yet innovative air exchange system incorporated – a ground surface air hole to bring in ventilation and an additional hole in the roof that allows smoke to escape.

This site along the Slocan Narrows is one of the most significant archaeological sites of its kind in North America as the river has not been dammed, leaving most of the approximately 90 pit house sites largely intact.

Why settle for square when you can flourish in round?
round homes indigenous culture

From the Yurt of nomads, to the igloos of the far north, to the North American First Nations round and pit houses, cultures have relied on circular building to efficiently meet their housing needs. Round houses have always been known to provide a host of benefits:

Round houses require fewer materials

Round homes use inherently fewer materials than their square counterparts, an attractive option when resources were scarce and extra labor meant expending precious energy. When it comes to design, a fundamental rule is that a simple shape is far more sustainable than a complex one.

Of any shape, the circle has the shortest boundary relative to its area. This means that for any given floor area a circular design has less wall length, requiring less wall, floor, and roof materials to contain 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 allows for a smaller eco-footprint and less cost, without compromising living space.

Round houses are energy efficient

Round houses have less surface area to come in con­tact with adverse weather con­di­tions, which improves the over­all dura­bil­ity and energy effi­ciency of the home.

A round home is also more aerodynamic, admitting fewer drafts, preventing fluctuations in temperature influenced by the weather outdoors.

With 20% less exterior wall space, heating and cooling bills are reduced and good natural airflow means comfort, even in desert climates.

Inherently efficient, the nat­ural ther­mal dynam­ics of open-at-the-top archi­tec­ture round space uses no exter­nal energy to cir­cu­late tem­per­a­ture. Heated air will naturally rise towards the insu­lated ceil­ing. It moves up the domed ceil­ing until it reaches the cen­tre sky­light, where it is cooler. The air reacts by dropping to the floor where it then moves across to the walls and rises once again to repeat the cycle.

This action circulates the air naturally and constantly, requiring less energy to maintain comfortable, consistent indoor temperatures, winter or summer.

Round houses offer superior natural disaster resistance

Given the dozens of interconnected points that provide the building with a unique combination of strength and flexibility, round homes are significantly safer and more stable during heavy snowfall and natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricane-force winds, and high water, including tsunamis.

Winds that batter and potentially destroy traditional homes can’t have the same impact on a round structure. A rounded roof is less affected by wind planing, a wind strong enough to lift the roof structure up – and sometimes off the house. Wind can flow around the curved structure instead of getting caught on the angles of a conventional build making them particularly resistant to hurricanes and tornadoes.

Round houses provide superior acoustics

The curve of a round home soften the sounds inside the structure creating a wonderful environment for rest, relaxation, and reflection. If you are a music lover or enjoy socializing it’s the acoustics provide a perfect sound quality to enhance your experience.

The shape is also helpful for sound-proofing for outdoor noise. Sound waves dis­si­pate as they wrap around the build­ing, shield­ing the inte­rior from loud noises outside.

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, 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.”

Round houses promote healthy living by design

A 21st cen­tury round home incorporating mod­ern mate­ri­als provides a wonderfully updated, even more, safe and efficient iteration of what our ancestors pioneered. Energy efficient, sustainable, durable, and uniquely beautiful round homes can easily be the home of the future as well as the past.

While certainly not a pioneer of round building technology, American architect, R. Buckminster Fuller was certainly a round and dome house evangelist. When asked “Why a round house?” His answer:

“Why not? The only reason that houses have been rectangular all these years is that, that is all we could do with the materials we had. Now with modern materials and technology, we can apply to houses the same efficiency of engineering that we apply to suspension bridges and airplanes . . . ”

Want to learn more about how a Mandala Homes round home might be the right choice for you? Talk to us!