Reciprocal Roof Roundhouse

Surface 24.9 m2
Dimensions 9.65m x 9.65m
Round wood cabin in the woods, perfect for forest getaways. You can build a green roof on top. You can build it yourself. You can close it all up or leave it open as a gathering space. It is as versatile a structure as you can get.
280 €

A roundhouse is a circular plan, usually with a conical roof and a central pole in the middle. This is the case of yurts. In the later part of the century, modern designs of roundhouse eco-buildings were constructed with materials such as cob, cordwood or straw bale walls and reciprocal frame green roofs.


The model in these plans is reciprocal frame, which is a class of self-supporting structure made of three or more beams and which requires no center support to create roofs, bridges or similar structures. Also known as a Mandala roof, they have been used since the twelfth century in Chinese and Japanese architecture. It has lately been rediscovered and fantastic buildings have lately been erected this way. A team of about ten can put the structure up in about 10 days, provided there is guidance from an experienced builder. 

In this permarchitecture plan, this method of building has been put into practice to get the most out of a circular design. The lack of central pole is crucial as the space suddenly gets bigger and brighter. Instead of a big pole in the middle, you now have a natural light dome that lifts up the whole living area. 


Most of these types of buildings are being built on flattened ground, without foundation, using stone footings. On sloped ground though, it is advisable to raise the whole structure if you can. This way, not only are you protected from watersheds but the general look and feel of the slope is left untouched. The poles can be wood in gravel-filled holes or concrete. The making of the deck is an art in itself. Concentric wooden board should make slices across the deck to keep the circular look intact. The easier, though not as pretty solution is to simply make parallel boards deck and cut them to shape. 


In between the structural poles, more than one possibility of material emerge. In this plan I have chosen wattle and daub, to keep it within the spirit of team work. The process of building wattle-and-daub walls is fun and rewarding, but keep in mind that it takes a long time. Other wall materials can include recycled panels if you have access to such things, cordwood, textile (for summer use) or simply leaving the structure as is and using it as a summer kitchen or lounge.


The large eave and inside-outside feel of this layout make for a light but shaded place in which the main elements are placed centrally, while the annexes are placed on the outside. It is the case of the bathroom area, which can even be added to a later date or removed all together in the use case of a workshop or a shared bathroom glamping. The same goes for the outside storage area, though the embrace of both these volumes on the main round plan adds anchoring and helps with proper space usage. The bed and kitchen area, as with all small spaces, needs to be carefully thought out. The same goes with all the built in furniture, like benches and shelving. That being said, they are easy enough projects to make by yourself, if you feel like it.


The square deck adjacent to the building is to be placed on the land according to the slope, strictly parallel to it. The orientation of the round volume is a bit more lax, but should still keep the general rule of the openings looking towards the south and/or the view. It is true that lately, climate change brings different priorities in the temperate climate sun- and heat-wise: if a couple of decades ago we were looking for the sun, today, most of Europe is actively trying to avoid heat in the months of July and August due to extreme heat waves. Maybe the land you are on and the combined rate of usage of the building (holiday or all-year-round) will determine a North positioning of the openings.


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