Creating New Spaces: Meet the Yurt!
It has long been a dream of the Piedmont Progressive Preschool to be able to expand their enrollment to include a multi-age or transitional kindergarten class. Because the classrooms within the church building house the three classes the school already offers, another space is needed. A creative and functional solution currently being explored in detail is the possible construction of a yurt on church grounds. Michele Deese, preschool director, presented this idea to the Piedmont UU Church Board of Trustees during the March 2018 board meeting, and it was met with curiosity and enthusiasm. A decision was made to form an exploratory task force, and, since then, preschool staff and council members have been consulting with the board and garden committee regarding possible locations as well as researching logistical steps. Throughout this process, as one might expect, many questions have arisen! We’d like to take this opportunity to share the questions we have most frequently asked ourselves as well as the current plan for moving forward with this possibility.
1. What in the world is a yurt??
A yurt is a portable or semi-permanent structure, typically round in shape, with a collapsible wood frame and fabric coverings. For centuries, yurts have served as dwellings for nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey. Modern yurts are based on the same structural design but offer many different options in the way of materials, size, shape, and amenities. They have become a popular choice for recreational buildings that blend with nature and offer a minimalist aesthetic.
2. Where would the yurt be located and what would it look like?
In order for the preschool yurt to most easily have electricity and plumbing, the best location is at the back of the overflow parking lot area on what used to be the “Melton” property. There is an area of low brush that would need to be cleared, but the intention is for the structure to be nestled among the trees. The design would include two doors (front and back), a number of windows, a bathroom addition off the back of the structure, and a front porch and deck that wraps around the building. The inside of the yurt will be very open with minimal furniture and will provide 380 square feet of classroom space.
3. Who would pay for the yurt?
This project would be funded by the preschool, and the yurt would be purchased by the school through Freedom Yurt Cabins. However, it is the hope that, upon approval, church members would be willing to offer their time, expertise, and assistance with obtaining permits, fundraising, clearing & prepping the building site, and construction.
4. Would this be a shared space between the preschool and church?
Yes, with priority given to the preschool. The space will be in use Monday through Friday during school hours, but it would nearly always be available for small church groups in the evenings and on weekends. It really would be perfect for yoga and meditation classes as well as use as a religious education classroom on Sundays.
5. How will this affect the overflow parking lot?
The anticipated location of the yurt would not take away from current parking spaces in the overflow lot. On the contrary, this project may well provide an opportunity to define parking spaces in that lot to better take advantage of the space we do have.
6. I have so many more questions! What are the next steps? Where and when can I learn more?
The preschool is currently drawing up official plans to share with the city to determine what building permits are needed, and they are calculating costs to establish how they can best finance the project.
There will be a Town Hall meeting in early May (date to be announced soon) and the yurt will be one of our topics. Please plan to attend and bring all your burning questions and creative ideas!
In the meantime, if you are interested in participating on the Yurt Task Force, please email Becky Schisler at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michele Deese at email@example.com.