Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter – Lloyd Kahn

Master builder Louie Frazier’s Japanese-style pole house in Northern California, reachable on a 500″ cable across a river / Ian MacLeod’s handbuilt stone house in South Africa, where baboons jump on the roof at night / Ma Page’s bottle house in the Nevada desert / artist Michael Kahn’s semi-subterranean sculptural ivillage in Arizona / Bill and Athena Steen’s strawbale houses / Ianto Evans’ cob houses in Oregon / the Archlibre group of countercultural builders in the French Pyrenees / Bill Coperthwaite’s spectacular 3-story yurt in the Maine woods / Bill Castle’s finely-crafted log home and sauna in the NY Appalachians / a commune in the Tennesee mountains / the “Flying Concrete” brothers in Mexico and their far-out sculptural structures / Barns in California, Washington, and Connecticut / Photo-essays of Lloyd Kahn’s trips to Nevada, the Mississippi Delta, Costa Rica, Nova Scotia, and Baja California / Photos of buildings all over the world by photographers Yoshio Komatsu and Kevin Kelly + more, lots more. . .I get excited just listing these things! -LK

PS SHELTER, it turns out , had a major influence on builders, and included are buildings our 1973 book inspired, so this is truly a sequel.

About the Author

I started building almost 50 years ago, and have lived in a self-built home ever since. If I’d been able to buy a wonderful old good-feeling house, I might have never started building. But it was always cheaper to build than to buy, and by build-ing myself, I could design what I wanted and use materials I wanted to live with.

I set off to learn the art of building in 1960. I liked the whole process immensely. Hammering nails. Framing — delineating space. Nailing down the sub-floor, the roof decking. It’s a thrill when you first step on the floor you’ve just created.

Ideally I’d have worked with a master carpenter long enough to learn the basics, but there was never time. I learned from friends and books and by blundering my way into a process that required a certain amount of competence. My perspective was that of a novice, a homeowner — rather than a pro. As I learned, I felt that I could tell others how to build, or at least get them started on the path to creating their own homes.

Through the years I’ve personally gone from post and beam to geodesic domes to stud frame construction. It’s been a constant learning process, and this has led me into investigating many methods of construction — I’m interested in them all. For five years, the late ’60s to early ’70s, I built geodesic domes. I got into being a publisher by producing Domebook One in 1970 and Domebook 2 in 1971.

I then gave up on domes (as homes) and published our namesake Shelter in 1973. We’ve published books on a variety of subjects over the years, and returned to our roots with Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter in 2004, The Barefoot Architect in 2008, Builders of the Pacific Coast in 2008, and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter in 2012.

Building is my favorite subject. Even in this day and age, building a house with your own hands can save you a ton of money (I’ve never had a mortgage) and — if you follow it through — you can get what you want in a home.

Read more….

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