Ele­gant homes with a focus on energy effi­ciency and a sen­si­tive envi­ron­men­tal footprint


Lars Chose relaxes in one of the round rooms he recently designed and built. — Brandon Knapp photo

Koote­nay Busi­ness Mag­a­zine March 2012

Before estab­lish­ing his com­pany that spe­cial­izes in round build­ing design, Lars Chose started out build­ing tra­di­tional timber-frame homes. But even then he liked to incor­po­rate round ele­ments into his designs.

“I was build­ing a timber-frame home for a fam­ily,” said Chose, “and a friend of mine dropped by and really liked some of the round com­po­nents I inte­grated into the home design—and he asked if I could design a home for him and his fam­ily that involved two round man­dala cir­cles. That started me into round con­struc­tion and under­stand­ing the beauty of it.”


Chose, whose com­pany is based out of the West Koote­nay region of B.C., started Man­dala Homes 11 years ago and has since built a total of 65 homes in many loca­tions through­out North Amer­ica. Along with beau­ti­ful archi­tec­ture, Chose focuses on inte­grat­ing cutting-edge build­ing prac­tices and mate­ri­als for energy effi­ciency and envi­ron­men­tal sustainability.

“With the price of oil (going up), I saw I had to cre­ate homes that are con­tain­ers for heat, not chim­neys,” Chose said. “Most homes built over the past 100 years just let heat flow through them and out the roof. We design homes that con­tain and con­trol heat.”

Unlike homes of the past, Mandala’s homes are com­pletely sealed and air­tight. The homes are insu­lated well beyond the B.C. build­ing code.

“It feels like you’re being hugged by the build­ing,” Chose said. “Any heat you pro­duce stays in the house. You can use a very small heat source and it stays warm for a long time.”

He added that care­ful pas­sive solar design and ori­en­ta­tion of the home can increase the home’s energy effi­ciency. His own home has a day­light base­ment with large win­dows fac­ing south that heat the house nat­u­rally in the shoul­der sea­sons and win­ter months. The over­hangs are designed to shade the win­dows so as not to over­heat the home in the summer.


Chose said the com­bi­na­tion of pre­fab­ri­ca­tion and on-site assem­bly is also a key aspect to his home-building phi­los­o­phy, because this helps green the build­ing and allows for fast construction.

“As I looked at the way homes are being built, it seemed way more effi­cient to build them in a fac­tory than on site,” he said. “There’s less waste, bet­ter qual­ity con­trol and bet­ter envi­ron­men­tal con­trol. You’re basi­cally bring­ing it to weath­er­tight in a few weeks.”

Chose recently obtained an occu­pancy per­mit for his own 2,300-square-foot home just five months after he poured the con­crete. He has also assem­bled a 322-square-foot cot­tage in just eight hours.


As for the future of Man­dala, Chose fore­sees edu­cat­ing peo­ple about healthy, energy-efficient homes, as well as con­tin­u­ing to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to green and healthy build­ing practices.

In addi­tion, he is mov­ing toward build­ing more retire­ment cen­tres and multi-generational homes. Chose said he also wants to work with the peo­ple of Japan to help them build more sus­tain­able homes and con­front the hous­ing cri­sis left in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, as well as travel to Mexico’s Yucatan region to pro­vide assis­tance to the Mayan peo­ple in learn­ing to con­struct pre­fab­ri­cated homes.

To learn more, visit Man­dala Homes on Facebook.