Shelter Book (15)

The Temple of Promise Built for 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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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #25, Solar-Powered Quonset Hut Home in Northern California

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p7150849Elaine and Sandy Doss live on 150 acres in Northern California in this WWII Quonset hut, which was converted for living by architect Val Agnoli (one of the featured builders in our book, Shelter).

Sandy and I continue to live off the grid using a photovoltaic system with backup gas generator. Water comes from a well with solar pump, then gravity-fed to the house; livestock water is from springs.

We have a bedroom wood-burning stove, living-room propane fireplace, and propane wall heater in the study. TV and Internet services are via satellite.

–Elaine Doss

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Inspired by Shelter in 1973

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Hi, Lloyd,

On first looking into your Shelter book in 1973, my fate was sealed. Since then, I have made my own ceramic tile, been a tile setter for 35 years, and am a serial remodeler and builder of tiny houses. Pictured here with my original Shelter book. I recently came upon your Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter, and have been inspired anew. Rage on!

Sincerely,
–Fred Ross
San Anselmo, CA

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New Video of Lloyd Kahn's Homestead by Kirsten Dirksen, Fair Companies

Kirsten Dirksen
Photo by Nicolás Boullosa

Kirsten Dirksen is a filmmaker with Fair Companies, a bilingual media operation that she and her husband Nicolás Boullosa run out of Barcelona. Kirsten is a former TV producer for MTV and the Travel Channel who now focuses on “…community and access to tools on sustainable culture.” She has produced almost 600 videos, an amazing body of work when you consider that it’s the editing, not the shooting, that is so time-consuming. I don’t know how she does it.

We’ve had a bunch of people shoot film (OK, OK, video) around here and they generally take a long time to get set up, then follow a preconceived series of shots and questions.

Kirsten walked in the first time and within 5 minutes, was shooting. We were comfortable with her. She winged it, seeing what we were doing, following us around. On one of her visits, her two little long-haired girls explored the garden and chickens and Nicolás shot photos.

…[more on full post page]…

One thing I love about this video is that she recognized what Lesley is doing in her life and with her garden, her art, and her attitude towards a home. Often that gets missed in people coming here to see me.
Read More …

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My Talk/​Slideshow: "50 Years of Natural Building" This Weekend at Maker Faire

My first building in 1961, in Mill Valley, California, a studio with what is now called a “living roof”

I actually started building in 1960 and soon thereafter started shooting photos and interviewing builders for our series of books on handmade housing. In those days we didn’t call it “natural building,” but that’s what it was. In our book Shelter in 1973, a section of the book was devoted to these materials: wood, adobe, stone, straw bale, thatch, and bamboo. I guess we were natural before it was called “natural.”

A month or so ago, Cheryl Long, the editor at The Mother Earth News, asked me if I could do a talk on natural building at the TMEN fair in Albany, Oregon (near Corvallis) on the first weekend in June. As I was getting the materials together, the Maker Faire asked if I could do a presentation at their annual event in San Mateo, California, on May 16.
Read More …

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Lloyd Kahn and His Greenhouse

Art Rogers Family Album, November 6, 2014 | The Point Reyes Light

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Lloyd Kahn and his greenhouse built from recycled windows and handmade bricks made from local clay. Photo by Art Rogers

Lloyd, who was born and raised in San Francisco, began building things in the late 1940s when, at age 12, he helped his father construct their family home in Colusa. After building a large timber home for himself from recycled materials in Big Sur in 1967, he became interested in domes and began his publishing career with a series of publications titled Dome Book 1 and Dome Book 2; he became the “Shelter” editor in 1969 for the Whole Earth Catalogue. He moved to Bolinas in 1971, built a dome, tore it down and replaced it with a stud-framed house and became a pioneer of owner-built simple structures using recycled materials. He has since published over 20 books on the subject, including  Shelter, and The Septic System Owners Manual, Builders of the Pacific Coast, and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

He will be giving a slide presentation and book signing this Friday, November 7, 2014, 7:30 p.m., at the Point Reyes Presbyterian Church for his latest book about living in small structures, titled Tiny Homes on the Move: Wheels and Water.

For more information, visit www.pointreyesbooks.com.

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Silent Spaces: The Last of the Great Aisled Barns by Malcolm Kirk

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DSC00920-lo-res DSC00919-lo-resA barn lover in Oregon told me about this book. and what a find! Timber frame lovers and barn lovers, this is a rare and beautiful book, now out of print, but available used from Abe Books. Photographer Malcolm Kirk documents this unique form of construction, often called “aisle and bay divided,” from pre-medieval Europe to Colonial America. (See pp. 30-32 of Shelter.) Terrific photos.
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Tiny Homes on the Move Is a Glorious Romp (Book Review)

From TreeHugger
by Lloyd Alter
August 12, 2014

1965 VW van

This book is everything that TreeHugger tries not to be, and it is just totally captivating.

Since its inception, TreeHugger has been “partial to a modern aesthetic.” As an architect, I am even more so, and the tiny houses, RVs and trailers shown on TreeHugger have tended to lean toward the sleek and modern. This is certainly the first time a hippied up VW van has graced the pages here. Read More …

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Mike Beaudry & Bill Rispoli's Sod Roof Log Cabin

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Lloyd and company,

I am essentially an itinerant timber framer and hand hewer. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work on some unusual small homes and cabins. Like many, the book that influenced me the greatest was Shelter. It was in Shelter that I first saw a cruck frame and fell in love with its simple beauty. Shelter also showed me that it was possible for someone to pick up an axe and hew out a timber frame or log home.

I own the whole Shelter series including the less familiar Shelter II.

I do not know if you are interested in any of these pictures for publication but I would truly feel honored if you did.

This building is a log cabin, hand-hewn. This was built by Bill Rispoli and me. The living roof is blueberry sod. Has berries in August and turns scarlet in autumn. Think of us as builders from the Atlantic Coast.

–Mike Beaudry

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Jonny Briggs' Structure in the UK

Jonny Briggs' Peach House

Hi,

I have just completed a structure that has greatly been inspired by the books you produce. I am a 26-year-old carpenter/designer from the UK and work using traditional techniques and local sustainable materials.

I just thought I would share my creation with you, the Peach House was commissioned by a member of the Royal family and I was given free rein with the design and build, which was a very rare but amazing experience. Read More …

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Kate & Andy's Shepherd's Hut/Train Carriage

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Hi,

Having spent many hours being inspired by Shelter, Builders of the Pacific Coast and Tiny Homes we wanted to share with you our project building a road legal mobile tiny home which we now live in, having sold our conventional town house a year ago. We spent about 6 months designing our “hut” which draws inspiration from the traditional shepherd’s hut and old railway carriages and we started building it on a 16′ × 7′ car transporter trailer in November 2013. Whilst trying to source materials to keep the overall weight as low as possible we also used local sustainable and reclaimed materials wherever possible. Read More …

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A Child's Tiny Home in a Gypsy Wagon

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I was going over some old files in preparation for working on our new book on 21st century nomadics, and ran across this letter from Serena in Home Work (p. 176). It refers to the 37 Chevy flatbed truck converted to a rolling home by Joaquin de la Luz and his wife Gypsy, and featured in Shelter (pp. 90–91), and in later years used as a bedroom by 4-year-old Serena. It was such a nice example of happy childhood memories, I thought I’d reprint it here.

My earliest memories of the Gypsy Wagon begin when I was three or four years old. At that point, our family had settled down in a little house on the Klamath River, in Northern California. We had all moved out of the Gypsy Wagon but I really missed it. I remember begging my mom and dad to let me use it as my bedroom. Luckily for me, my parents were such free spirits that they could really relate to my independence. The wagon became my room.
Read More …

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Jeff Hill's Van

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Dear Mr. Kahn,

I received your book, Shelter, as a gift a few years back and found it so inspiring. I was living in San Francisco at the time, and was so drawn to your work, the simplicity of it all. Shortly after being gifted your book I found myself actively pursuing a dream I had talked about for a while.

Buying an old van and building it into a custom camper. With your Shelter aesthetic in mind, and no real building skills but the few basics my father had taught me as a kid, I began construction on my tiny home. I was living out of this van in San Francisco and working on it when I found the time and money, slowly getting walls and partitions built. Because I was living in a city environment stealth was the name of the game, and my basic conversion van exterior gives no ideas of just how homey the interior is, but for good reason. Read More …

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