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Kindred Spirit
Artisans of
Steambent Yurts

 

Over the years we've been involved in many different projects, some of them really straight forward, some more complex.

People often ask for more than a yurt -  they're looking for a house, or a cabin, or some such.

The truth is, the Yurt is a tent; a circular tent, yes, and a beautiful tent! but a tent.

 

 

 

Part of the process of learning to live with these exceptional structures is in the realisation that the tent a set thing, and it is our expectations, attachments and understanding that are set to change as we embark on the rediscovery of this ancient connection.

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Our yurts draw largely on the traditions of Kyrgistan and the area around the Aral sea. Once the wood is selected, it is prepared for the various parts of the structure, before being steam-bent to produce the classic curves of these traditional tents.

We have followed a distinct styles over the years. Making yurts from coppice wood (Ash, or Chestnut), largely relays on hand tools and traditional techniques; we use small axes and draw-knives to achieve the finish.

In other builds, we tend towards sawn ash, machining it to a high quality finish and uniformity which lends another rhythm to the finished product.

Once the wood has been selected and worked to the appropriate degree, the alchemical process of steaming involves immersing the sections in boiling water vapour for the required amount of time to allow the fibres to become subtle and ‘plastic’.  This allows for each piece to be shaped on jigs to the required forms.

When the pieces have set in their new positions, the process of finish involves drilling the holes, sanding, oiling for longevity, and assemblage.

Typically, the journey from wood selection to finish yurt frame takes several weeks depending on the availability of the materials.

Coupled with this, the doorway frames have to also be built, and recently we have tended towards using Oregon, or Douglas fir for its strength and durability. (Oak and Chestnut is also an option here, though typically it way much heavier than the Douglas - see materials)

All the timber selected for our products are locally sourced, and come from the extensive forests of the Pyrenees.

Recently we have also worked on our first reciprocal frame roof, adding these beautiful structures to our folio.

 

Why We make Yurts

Since my first experience of visiting a yurt more than 25 years ago, I have been enchanted by these spaces. Entering for the first time was like coming home. The regularity and rhythm of the circle brought a serene feeling of completeness; the mirror of the cosmos, at once complex and simple - what the Kyrgistani refer to as the Eternal Homeland .

It was then, at the beginning of my interest into space, place and memoryscape that I started to find out about liminality - the use of space as a transformative vehicle for the mind-soul complex.

Sitting here all these years later, it doesn’t surprise me that I became a yurt maker. Even now, I still experience that catch-of-breath when we put a yurt frame up for the first time.

 

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The yurt is simple, harmonious and calm as a focus for daily living, as if by design. The circle not only bringing one back to centre, but at the same time unconciously bringing a 360° awareness of the environment and ones place therein.

Recent years have brought a growing awareness of environmental issue, and there has been a steady movement towards looking for more sustainable, ‘low-impact’ ways of living with the earth.

 

"Being in touch with the natural world is crucial."
- David Attenborough

The symbolic connection which yurts present to the past and a simpler, less ‘cluttered’ way of living have seen a marked increase in these tents popularity.

Their circular form and its kinship to the ‘eternal circle’ and the rhythm of the natural world is not only becoming popular in the west, but is also offing those seeking a change of pace the perfect means to do so.

Whether for full time living, or for accommodation in the new ‘glamping’ movement, yurts are becoming central to lifestyle questioning. Indeed the yurt, along with tipis, is becoming the focus of an eco-centric view of the world, coupling a nostalgia for a romanticised past, with the physical demands of sustainable living.

 

 

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"Whether the circle moves with you,
or you are moved by it, it is the same."
- Fiona Sass

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 "One has only to enter to be moved by the grandeur of these yurts, 
at once feeling a connection to the sacred, 
and also to the lineage of an older tribal vision and heritage." 

Reciprocal Frame Roof

 

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These structures are created by laying out timbers, one on top of another in a spiral pattern to produce a self supporting roof frame. The wood used can be either round logs cut straight out the forest, or sawn timber (as in the example).   The unique geometry of these roof hold within it an harmonious rhythm and beauty.

The project at Pena Rosa was to create a circular roof structure to provide shade from the unrelenting Mediterranean Sun.  The roof was built out of douglas fir beams using 16 rafters, and was supported by an octagonal frame made of local chestnut.  At 8m00 diameter, we allowed for the intersecting circle to measure 1m00, and currently our friends are in process of adding a covering of reeds to create the desired shade.

 

From the initial drawings, and a couple of small models to check the correct positioning of the liasing joints, the building of this roof was a very interesting process.  When we eventually put the last beam into place on site, the effect was more than we could have imagined. Simplicity and beauty!  A very worthwhile experience.


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Learning and Innovation

 

Wedding Yurts and Sacred Space

The sheer size of these tents demands that we organise some 5 m³ of sawn Ash to be available to choose the best quality materials. Based on the typical yurt frame, it was evident from the conceptualisation that above a certain diameter, these structure require a second ring, or Tonoo not only for the added strength which it adds, but also for the stability and general aesthetic of the structure.

The Penbedw Estate Yurt came in at just under 13m00 diameter once the math was done, and was such an exciting project to undertake. For sure, there were many elements to juggle in, some really taxing, some just as equally stimulating, as we worked our way through all the different parts of the structure.

From the enormous amount of wood used for the rafters and wall-sticks, to the specifically chosen pieces for he laminated wheel-circles, at moments it felt that we were just swimming in wood. Working with such rhythmic trigonometry has been deeply inspiring, and the liminal space created by our big yurts touches the soul in a very profound way.

One has only to enter to be moved by the grandeur of these yurts, at once feeling a connection to the sacred, and also to the lineage of an older tribal vision and heritage.

Being used for a variety of events ranging from seminars to weddings and workshops, these tents offer a spacious yet intimate setting for our moments of social, and spiritual transformation.

Sheperds Huts and Wagon

So totally new there aren’t even any pics


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