Although we are hiding from winter in Florida, we have not been idle on the house plans. Hours have been spent molding them into something both beautiful and useful. The floor plan has changed greatly. Gone is the lovely spiral, which is definitely beautiful, but not in any way efficient for daily living.
In our quest for the perfect house, we’ve looked at and discarded so many concepts. I’ve always considered a round house to be the pinnacle of achievement, something precious we lost long ago – the most basic form of housing. This process has forced me to really look at my own assumptions.
In my quest for the perfect floorplan, I studied the history of architecture, looking for ways to make what we wanted work. In my readings it became clear that perfectly round houses might be a little over romanticized in the natural building world. In truth, cultures who built round houses tended to be nomadic. Because they moved often, they didn’t have much in the way of belongings. A round shelter is very strong and offers the most interior space for a given amount of wall space. It lends itself to soft furnishings and packs up well.
As soon as a culture took to residing somewhere permanently, their dwellings became the square shape we are so familiar with. Ancient Egypt and the cliff dwellings of New Mexico are definitely very old and, belonging to a people who stayed in one place, are also square. Square dwellings offer the most convenient way to partition space permanently and lend themselves better to hard furnishings such as tables and beds.
Given that our home is to be a permanent place, it is not surprising that we had so much trouble making the entirely round spiral floorplan work when we tried to add the normal trappings of modern daily life. But we did not discard the curves entirely. Curved earthbag walls are very strong and much more stable than straight walls. We kept the curve where the earth berm will put pressure on the walls. We also managed to put a curved area in the front room that offers a nice place for the table to be out of the way.
Becoming an adult means learning that life is full of compromises. Our house will not quite be the ancient, grass covered, round hut that we first imagined. But it will be a unique and comfortable home that suits are needs exactly.
What more can we ask?