Yurts are an ancient form of portable shelter structure. Originating thousands of years ago in the steppes of central Asia, these dwellings were originally used by nomadic people of the region. There are two major types of traditional yurts – the Ger and the so called “Stani” yurts. Gers use straight roof rafters that tie directly into the lattice wall, where as the stani yurts (named because of the widespread use throughout the following geographic areas – Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, etc) steam bend the rafters before they tie into a shorter lattice wall. All modern day North American yurts are modeled after the Ger. Modern yurt manufacturers (like Shelter Designs) 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 all over the world in a wide array of both personal and commercial use. Many people are discovering the financial freedom of living in a yurt as their full time residence, while businesses are finding how cost effective they are at providing unique, sought after rental accommodations, retail spaces, restaurants, etc. 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.