Sunday, 6 February 2011

Long term shelter

A few years back, I was involved with a project to build a long term group shelter that could be used over a number of seasons. The construction was to be of a "Stacked debris type" roundhouse that would be made from a twin wall with the centre packed with forest floor debris to aid insulation. The roof would also be covered in forest floor debris but would have a hole in the centre of the roof to enable us to use an internal fire.

First thing to do was to install 4 central "Y" posts which would provide the apex of the roof.

Around this went an outer double ring of upright posts

We wove lengths of willow, holly and bramble between the uprights and then filled the internal space with debris from the forest floor. It was a long and labour intensive task. It took 6 of us all day just
to complete the circular wall of this shelter. We did stay within the walls that night, but used our tarps to form the roof. The shelter was very warm, even though it was late October.

Next day saw us begin work on the roof. This was done by placing long poles from the apex posts down to the wall tops. This was covered by finer brush wood and would be eventually covered in forest floor debris

     Here you can see the construction of the roof. We had also added a raised fireplace in the centre.

Here you can see the entrance to the shelter

Here you can see the roof beginning to be covered by forest floor debris. The fine sticks etc help to stop the debris from falling through.

The roof covered.

Interior of the completed shelter

This picture shows the hole in the roof that allows smoke to escape from the shelter.

This type of shelter is not one to attempt if you are short of food or in ill health. It was a lot of hard work and we burnt off a lot of calories building it. It would, however, provide you with a sustainable long term shelter that could be used over many seasons.


  1. Excellent post, thank you. Shelter looks great.

  2. It looks like shelters I've seen pictures of from various countries and from various time periods. Guess some designs are hard to improve on.

  3. Excellent stuff. was that at an AA course?

  4. Where was this done...?

    Looks a lot like one that I stumbled across in Castlewellan last year...

  5. Gary did it and i believe it was on an AA meet. I dont really know where though i believe it was a closely guarded secret!

  6. It's not really a secret at all. It was built in a wood just outside Annalong a few years back. I haven't been down to it in quite some time as it's so far away.


  7. The design definitely resembles a yurt or Ger from the Mongolian nomads