Hand Tools (56)

The Temple of Promise at Burning Man

Temple of Promise, the unbuilt temple for Burning Man 2014

Lloyd,

Humans’ first large structures were long houses. Simple pit houses with a circle of lengths of branches or trees were expanded for larger groups by taking those same short spans and arranging them along a line: a Long House. These basis structures are indigenous to almost all ancient cultures. I felt that the temple at burning man needed to be a reference to our most ancient structures; well before the rise of organized religions. These were spaces for the first assembly of a tribe. A time when we all knew each other, when we all built the building, and we all shared risks, adventures, celebrations and solemn moments. The Temple of Promise was about simplicity of sharing as a group.

When I was 15 or 16, I found Shelter in the local library on the same shelf as Frank Lloyd Wright. The two sets of images gripped my and never let go. Wright’s work was both art and craft mixed with aspiration, while Shelter was accessible, immediate and endearing. My copy of Shelter was worn at the edges within a year was very quickly pile of loose but revered pages. Thirty years later, after working in the trades, completing architecture school, and working in the East Coast, Europe, Asia and Australia and moving to the West Coast, I opened boxes of old possessions. Shelter greeted me from the pile. You can only imagine my joy when I realized that it was written and published just a few miles from where I now called home. I can never fully express the joy and insight Shelter has given me. It gave me a direction and remains a strong reference in my life.

Thank you, Lloyd Kahn,
–Ross

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Cool Shacks in the High Sierra

Hi Lloyd & crew,

I thought you might like these photos for your blog these were taken in the East High Sierras near Big Pine, CA. This group of shacks houses a pack train that carries tourists up to see a glacier, though no animals were present when I walked by.

They have the delightful “architect-less” simplicity you often see in Alpine structures, seated so well within their environment; William Wurster would be delighted. Note the vertical lift door of the hay barn which is opened with a pulley.

Keep up the good work!

–Andy Asp,
Oakland, CA

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Mystery of the Gypsy Vardo Solved

Lloyd posted this post a little over a year ago; we just received a letter from the builder, Cennydd Rees, with a little info about his build:

Hi Lloyd,

Just to solve the lovely little mystery on your blog, ’tis I, Cennydd Rees. It’s my little bowtop hybrid or camping karutsa. I live with my Bulgarian girlfriend and two children in an equally tiny house in northwest Bulgaria. I am a designer/builder and am now making a much tighter version of the karutsa in your blog.

Just had two families staying here. One a surfer/designer friend doing a Euro tour with his family in his converted van. The karutsa is a subtle twist on the standard gypsy-style wagons, and I am hoping to make a small living with the now mk3 version. Just enough.
Read More …

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Island Soul

I don’t see any boards, but these guys gotta be surfers. Somewhere in Kapa‘a, Kauai. Authentic, yeah?

What I like here (aside from the soulfulness):

  • Hip roof, corrugated steel sheets
  • Porch area by subtraction. Think of it as the overall simple roof shape; then by moving walls inside, you get porch.
  • Up off ground on simplest of foundations.
  • Colors: red/green. I love the brick red color, especially window trim on Pacific west coast.

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Learn to Timber Frame Book Review

Will Beemer of The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts was kind enough to send us this amazing book on learning to build using the timber framing technique. I have always been amazed by this particular process of framing, watched a ton of YouTube videos on builds using this technique, but never really understood the process fully.

I now know about wood selection, the tools needed, layout and cutting, framing, sills, joists, braces, etc. This book gave me a great starting point for using timber frame building techniques. Thank you so much Will! Can’t wait to start a project!

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Beautifully Converted Bus



From modern live-work spaces to family-oriented dwellings, we’re seeing a number of beautifully renovated interiors inside buses that have been converted into tiny homes. But what’s great too is that each vehicle has its own fascinating story behind it. Take Denver, Colorado’s Charles Kern of Art Builders Guild, a professional bus homebuilder who first built his own home on wheels a few years ago, using a bus that has quite a history.

Charles tells us that he converted a bus for a simple reason: he needed a place to live as a cash-strapped 20-year-old philosophy student, and as someone who was knowledgeable about buses for over a decade, it seemed like the best solution. Charles relates the story behind the bus that he calls The Queen — a 1982 Bluebird Bus on an International Harvester chassis…

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Master Carpenter in Japan Builds on Wheels



Mr. Tagami follows a principle of organic architecture. He describes his tiny house designs as growing like seeds, each with it’s own life and character. Before constructing a home, he creates scale models to ensure that his concept works and that the home will be aesthetically appealing.

As a man who is conscious of our environmental footprint,  Mr. Tagami strives to use natural materials wherever possible which at the end of the homes life will be able to return to the earth and not become a burden for future generations. Great care is taken in the sourcing of materials to ensure that the home is not only healthy for the earth, but also for those who will live in it…

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