include "/usr/home/eagle/crestoneeagle.com/html/footer.html"; ?>
Crestone Eagle, July 2004:
Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter
by Lloyd Kahn
Reviewed by Kelly Hart
years of waiting, I finally held a copy of Home Work:
Handbuilt Shelter by Lloyd Kahn in my hands. I have rarely
been this enthusiastic about a book, and not just because
I am in it!
Ever since his first publication of Shelter in 1973
(which I also contributed to), Lloyd has been collecting imagery
and stories for this eventual sequel. Shelter, a
black and white over-sized catalog of unusual building, has
become legendary as a book of inspiration for several generations
of free-spirited home builders. The fact that it is still
in print after 30 years attests to the durability of its significance.
This seminal book heralded the emergence of geodesic domes
and strawbale homes, as well as the influence of vernacular
building styles from around the world on North American architecture.
With Home Work, Lloyd has gone beyond the glory
of his earlier work in many ways. Not only does it seem more
comprehensive, but it is almost entirely in color. This is
a sumptuous coffee table book that will likely not spend much
time on the table, since it is so intriguing you just want
to pick up and browse through it. Every page is chock full
of fun, unusual, lyrical, quaint, artistic, humble, elegant,
practical, colorful, whimsical, well-crafted, funky, traditional,
and outlandish buildings that were lovingly built by the hands
of those who reside there. All of this is presented with Lloyd’s
casual style of layout and commentary that is reminiscent
of a scrap book. Many of the photos are actually collages
of several exposures spliced together to create expansive
Flipping through the pages of Home Work will take
you back to the early day of hippie huts and forward to the
cutting edge of natural building technology. The builders
themselves are portrayed as lovingly as their buildings, with
many profiles of fine craftsmen and women sprinkled throughout.
In fact, the book begins by featuring the work of ten artisans
who represent some of the best in this tradition of owner-builders.
Then a whole slew of other specific homes are displayed in
such a way that the lifestyle of their occupants is embedded
directly within the imagery. This book depicts far more than
architecture; it shows entire ways of life.
Half a dozen people who have dedicated their lives to the
promotion of natural building are profiled, along with some
of the fruit of their labors. It is in this section that Rosana
and I find ourselves, with a description of our earthbag/papercrete
home. What an honor it is to be part of such a fine work of
art as this book. We are in the company of Bill and Athena
Steen, Catherine Wanek, Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley, and
Lloyd has included examples of a variety of world-renowned
photographers whose work graces the pages with imagery from
India, Mongolia, Togo, Indonesia, Vietnam, Venezuela, New
Guinea, Greece, Hong Kong, Nepal, Bali, Germany, Thailand,
and Turkey, among other locales. The way these exotic places
are merged with the more familiar North American imagery makes
everything seem exotic, or in another way of seeing, it all
seems quite normal.
There is a section of buildings that derive their inspiration
from fantasy and whimsy. This includes the surprising and
almost garish flying concrete work of Steve Kornher in Mexico,
along with a sculptural home carved out of the Arizona desert
created by Michael Kahn, Lloyd’s cousin. A Nevada house
made of recycled glass bottles contrasts with delicate tropical
treehouses in Hawaii and China.
Then we go on the road with Lloyd, as he chronicles trips
that he made over the last 30 years. He photographed country
homes that caught his eye along the Mississippi River, lovely
and simple architectural elegance in Nova Scotia, old farm
buildings of Utah and Nevada, tropical abodes in Costa Rica,
and simple living in Baja California.
Continuing with the tradition that Lloyd established in the
original Shelter book, there are a bunch of images of unusual
housecars or rolling residences. My original school bus home
was featured in the first book. This time there is a donkey
train pulling a rolling homestead, complete with goats and
chickens. There are several gypsy wagons, both self-propelled
and not. There is a log home on wheels, as well as various
buses and vans. Lots of fun.
A chapter on living lightly features descriptions and diagrams
of tipis, yurts, tents, make-shift structures, and traditional
native American homes. There is enough information in these
pages to be able to construct many of these dwellings.
Another love that Lloyd manifests is for old barns of all
types. There are photos and diagrams of many of these fine
buildings. In fact old buildings of all sorts attract his
eye, and we see them from Oregon to Nepal, and from Hungary
back to California, where Lloyd still resides in a funky little
place on the coast of Marin County. Thank you Lloyd Kahn for
such a wonderful trip!
Home Work can be found at the Baca Grande Library,
and is for sale at Carmin’s store (in front of Crestone
Creative Trade) or on-line at www.greenhomebuilding.com/ store.htm.
Back to Archives
to the Eagle!