Energy-efficient homes have become the norm and in the pur­suit of sus­tain­abil­ity home­own­ers and design­ers are return­ing to a more tra­di­tional type, the round home.

But what many res­i­dents of cir­cu­lar houses have found is there are also spir­i­tual and emo­tional ben­e­fits to the shape.

Rebecca Christof­fer­son, clin­i­cal coun­sel­lor and art ther­a­pist, lives in Van­cou­ver Island’s Cowichan Val­ley and had intended on build­ing a round cob home on her prop­erty. But when she real­ized there was an exist­ing home on the lot she decided to erect a yurt to serve as a guest bed­room, work­shop and spir­i­tual heal­ing space.

“A big part of why I decided to build a yurt was the cir­cu­lar space,” said Christof­fer­son. “The imagery of the nomadic was sig­nif­i­cant as well, and you don’t need to have it per­mit­ted so there is a real free­dom with that.”

Yurts are portable homes tra­di­tion­ally used by nomads in Cen­tral Asia made of wooden ribs and lay­ers of fab­ric and sheep’s wool felt for insu­la­tion and weath­er­proof­ing. “Peo­ple who have spent time in our yurt have said the world sort of shuts out,” said Christof­fer­son. “It just feels like a huge blan­ket on the space; it is womb­like. The world slows down and it is ener­get­i­cally quieter.”

While some peo­ple have cho­sen yurts for their tem­po­rary qual­i­ties, design­ers like Lars Chose have chan­nelled the spir­i­tual qual­i­ties he’s iden­ti­fied in round homes into the struc­tures he cre­ates with his com­pany Man­dala Cus­tom Homes.

Chose had been design­ing and build­ing homes for 20 years on the side while work­ing as a psy­chother­a­pist, but it wasn’t until 1995 that he built his first round house.

“I saw where the world was going with the envi­ron­ment and the work I was doing with chil­dren and fam­i­lies,” he said. “It came to me one day that I needed to be part of the change that needed to hap­pen in a much stronger way.

“I had been study­ing how homes take half our resources to build and half our resources to cool and keep warm, and I decided to start a com­pany and use the round (shape) as a way to express both an envi­ron­men­tally friendly and a healthy home.” As a prac­tis­ing Bud­dhist, Chose said the shape con­nected well with the word man­dala which has sig­nif­i­cance to the religion.

Accord­ing to Chose, man­dala means the inter­con­nected whole. “For me the most awak­ened place is when we live in that awak­ened (sense of) know­ing that we are inter­de­pen­dent,” he said.

“There is no sep­a­ra­tion and that is our great­est pain to feel that sep­a­ra­tion. To be in a build­ing that is shak­ing you and com­mu­ni­cat­ing that inter­de­pen­dence, it just sup­ports and ampli­fies any spir­i­tual prac­tice or yearn­ings that we have.”