Page 28 Text: Bill Coperthwaite doesnt have email, doesnt have a phone, and lives in the Maine woods a few miles from the nearest roads. When I visited him in the 70s I walked in a mile or so through the woods. You can also get there by canoe down the coast. My son Peter was with me and we spent a few days there, taking canoe trips in the inlets, and hanging out with Bill and his apprentices. Bill has a Ph.D. in education from Harvard, worked for two years in Mexico with the American Friends Service Committee, designed a traveling museum of Eskimo culture, and has lectured all over the world.
In 1962, while reading a National Geographic article, Bill recognized the folk genius in the design of the traditional Mongolian yurt. He found in the yurt both a rich potential for creative design and an opportunity for developing a simple dwelling that people could build themselves. Bill designed the tapered-wall wooden yurt to enable people to play a larger role in creating their own shelter, using a design that reduces required building skills to a minimum while still producing a beautiful, inexpensive and permanent shelter.
These days Bill conducts workshops, sells yurt plans, designs and consults on yurt projects, and continues his search for ways to simplify life in the 21st century. Chelsea Green has just published Bills A Handmade Life In Search of Simplicity. To contact Bill, and for web information on his Yurt Foundation, see the next page.
Page 29 Text: The standard yurt can be built at 17' (eaves) diameter (and also at 12' and 10'). This is the simplest to build, makes a great cabin for one, or seminar space for 15 people, and can be used as a summer camp or mountain retreat. A circular skylight spreads illumination evenly, and a ring of soft peripheral light enters though the windows under the eaves. People have used these as saunas, guest rooms, and as offices with curving desks.
The concentric yurt is 38' (eaves) diameter and is really one yurt inside another. The inner yurt supports the roof of the outer one and reduces materials costs. This concentric way of dividing a circle creates a unique free-flowing space in the outer ring and a secluded feeling in the inner loft yurt. Since the inner yurt is raised a full story, it provides a room underneath that can be used as a bathroom, storage room, pantry, or living room. These yurts have been used all over America as permanent homes, summer homes, and common rooms in communities. It has 1000 sq. ft. of floor space.
Plans for the 3 basic yurts shown on these pages are
$25, $50, and $75.
The Yurt Foundation
Machiasport, ME 04655
Read an excellent interview with Bill Coperthwaite.