Life Without Corners - My Peace Corps Home

The circle is free of form, full of spontaneity, expressive, romantic, peaceful, whole, and timeless. It is the moon, the earth, and the stars. Winter passes, flowers blossom, sun intensifies and leaves fall to the ground.. repeat. Life and death, new life, new death.. repeat. In ancient times, most homes were built round (the yurt, cave dwelling, teepee or rondeval) and the circle almost always represented a symbol of the goddess, of the sun, of infinity, and of a higher being. 

“God [life] is a circle, whose centre is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere.” - Hermes Trismesgistus

I lay on my rug and stretch while my coffee brews in the one cup french press I inherited from a Peace Corps Volunteer whose service ended recently — already replaced by a new volunteer. I lay gazing at my thatch roof, admiring the intricacy of its structure. I am sitting at my rondeval’s center. I feel my energy expanding outward, swirling around me. I wonder, why did they choose to build round? Why the absence of corners? 

Maybe it is the influence of nature. The use of a shape that is more often reflected in the natural environment— stones, tree trunks, the leaves of plants.. However, my home is built with square concrete blocks, linear shapes of wood and straw that all center at that funny point in my thatch roof which looks like a mess of red hair and is what inspired its name, Rondeval Weasley.

I googled and a few studies later I discovered that..

-Psychologically, a larger amount of people in a group “were far more likely to consider a room beautiful when it was flush with curves rather than full of straight lines and more people prefer watches with circular faces, letters rendered in a curly font, couches with smooth cushions — even dental floss with round packaging.” This is, in fact, hard-wired into our brain.
-Other natural and proven explanations state that “wind and tsunami waves move naturally around a round building rather than getting caught at (and potentially ripping off) corners. A rounded roof avoids ‘air-planing’- a situation where a strong wind lifts the roof structure up and off of the building.”
But the most obvious practical benefit I have found is the INSULATION. In the brutal winter cold, besides through my unsealed windows, my home stays warmer than outside. In the intense summer heat my home stays comfortably cool. Why?
-“The natural thermal dynamics of open-at-the-top architecture round space uses no external energy to circulate temperature. It works like this; heated air naturally rises till it reaches the insulated ceiling, it moves up the domed ceiling till it reaches the center skylight, which is cooler, the air reacts by dropping to the floor where it moves across to the walls and rises again till it meets the skylight and drops again. This action constantly circulates the air and temperatures in the home.”

The important point I should be making is that I love my home and I have spent a lot of effort in making it feel like a home. Although, at first I struggled with how to work with a space without corners. How would I nail in linear shelving? Why is there a damn gap between my bed and the wall? Where do I put my kitchen, my bathroom, and my bedroom in one space? Then it all just worked [photos below].

I’m not religious, but I think what this Hermes guy was trying to say, in real life talk, is that circular living provides a balance of looking inward and outward. Shapely, like our earth’s landscape, one looks outward upon the natural environment and it’s surroundings and then inward at the heart of the individual creating a connection between all things. In my rondeval my feet are only separated from the ground by tile and a thin layer of concrete. Sometimes my earthy home has lead me to many encounters of the rodent, insect and arachnid kind — mice, scorpions, thatch spiders as large as my palm. But when you live round you get a sense that nature is also surrounding you. Rather than being completely separated from outside —the plants, rocks, clouds — you feel as if you are a part of it all. For those reasons among others, despite my isolation here at times, I never feel alone. I feel the energy in my home move around itself without getting trapped or blocked off in a corner. 

The space we occupy shapes who we are and how we behave. We spend a lot of time in our space, physically and emotionally. Maximizing how we use that space not only can improve our mental well-being but our creative outputs as well.

If I haven’t convinced you to either build a round home in the states or come visit me.. Imagine playing music in a rondeval. The acoustics soften on the curved edges, and in the mornings the sun rises directly outside my door over the mountains. Thanks to Momma Carter I have a large selection of chai, coffee, and teas usually with a Yoga podcast accompanying my slow mornings.. So, there you have it…my life without corners. 

My Pot Rack

What I Used: Strong Paracord (brought from the US), small carabiners as hooks, 4 pieces of 2in. x 2in. wood to build the frame, an old mop sawed into four pieces to make the perpendicular rows where things are hung, Mpowered light, flat board to create the shelf, and nails!          Cost: $20


The Do-It-Yourself Rondeval Guide

A.K.A. How I became a Master Builder

--Everything is awesome!!

My Wardrobe/Shoe Rack

What I Used: I brought home 3 pallets one day. My neighbor thought I was crazy when I asked to use his truck. The main support is a piece that was sawed off. If you have a drill you could more easily use a long pole across or a round branch and 4 inch nails. But.. I used chains that are wrapped and taped securely around nails and Paracord to hang the wardrobe. The shoe rack is another sawed piece of pallet with four bricks to create the height.

Tip: The people at the local hardware shop have become my great friends. They are always intrigued on what scraps I will use next to build something crazy! That being said, most of the materials were free!                      Cost:  $7

"Home wasn't built in a day."

My Headboard (And night light - thanks to Luminaid!)

What I Used: A twin size mattress and a fitted sheet for the headboard. The night light is hanging from the thatch ceiling by a carabiner and paracord.                                          Cost: $12

Home is not just a place, it’s a feeling.

Welcome to my Living Room! 

What I Used: Inherited from an RPCV the actual couch is a crash pad for bouldering (unfortunately, most of the rock is in the lowlands..) A fitted sheet, 3 pallets - that double as storage, a pillow and pillowcase, and a Maluti Mountain Brewery Crate as a table.                    Cost: $15

My Photo Gallery ft. cool, awesome people!

What I Used: Bostik and paper.   Cost: .50Cents

Mirror and Framing             Cost: Ate some eggs

What I Used: Egg trays, scissors, a hot glue gun, and cardboard.

Welcome to my office! 

Thank you, Grandpa, for the Nat Geo subscription :) 

A little touch of Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Free concrete blocks to lift my bed and create a space for storage. 

He traveled in order to come home.

Letters from home! 

My Nightstand 

What I Used: Coca cola crates and an upside down tray!                                 Cost: $0

How-to Egg Carton Flowers

The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave and even better to come back.

My Paper-Weaved Trashcan     Cost: $2

These hooks are incredibly strong!    Cost: $1 for 6pack

These hooks are incredibly strong!  

Cost: $1 for 6pack

My Plastic Bag Storage!

What I Used: A milk carton, knife, paint and paracord!                    Cost: Drank some milk..

Can't forget, Happy Holidays and New Year! I spent it with new family, friends and landscapes in a country that is starting to feel a lot like home. 

Blogging Abroad's Boot Camp Blog Challenge: Starting January 2015