Circling the Yurt

We spent week 3 of the Shelter Series with Kiko Denzer making circles – forming them, tying them, raising them, and telling their stories.

Compression ring made from bamboo and baling twine

Kiko explored his yurt design with us, improving on a few elements and discovering new things over the course of the week. Top tip: long rafters become somewhat cantilevered due to their weight and make raising the reciprocal roof far easier. We experimented with attaching the bamboo lattice to the cob bond beam and foundation without using any hardware – and the bamboo compression ring we used worked brilliantly. We tied a copious number of clove hitch knots (you can see them above in the picture of the small compression ring that holds the roof together – and that’s a tiny circle in comparison to the 13 ft diameter tension ring we made!)

Our yurt as it looked at the end of the week

The bamboo for the yurt came from various nooks and crannies of Aprovecho’s land and the rafter poles came from the nearby forest. The baling twine came from local farmers. Aside from a lot of sweat (it was scorcher of a week…) and tears (of joy, of course!) that’s about all the materials that went into its construction. It awaits it’s wattle and daub and plaster finish for the walls, and it’s roof of bender boards or recycled billboard.

My favorite afternoon of the week was spent sitting in the shade beneath a plum tree in the garden, with the whole group tying clove hitch knots round and round that 13 ft diameter tension ring, while stories were told, jokes were cracked, and music was played.


Circles are a great tool for bringing people together, and making circles together is one of the most satisfying acts I know of. Although the maths and head-scratching aspects of building a yurt with walls that lean outward seemed hard at times, overall it was playful and fun week. At the end more than one of us said we had found our way back to the kid inside of us. I hope to keep that playful, singing, storytelling, circle-making spirit close by for the rest of this course – and the rest of everything too.

Phases…experimenting with how the rafters would join to the compression ring

Reciprocal roof on the ground

Reciprocal roof raised high above Kiko’s head

A friendly eye in the sky

Making music, making yurts – the act of creation draws us together





3 thoughts on “Circling the Yurt

    • It’s in the bit of woods sort of behind the Tower of Power – between those two wooden camping platforms…if that makes sense. 🙂

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