Martin’s Pod

In the 1969-1970, I ran a dome building program at Pacific High School in the Santa Cruz mountains (above Saratoga). The school had 40 acres and the kids built their own domes to live in. It was pretty wild, and we did have some good moments before it all fell apart in a few years — teenagers away from home for the first time in a drug-rich environment.

Martin Bartlett was the music teacher and he built the only non-geodesic dome for himself. It was constructed by standing sheets of ¼″ plywood on end, trimmed on the upper edges so they could be pulled over and joined at the top. Martin then covered it with cedar shingles, installing a circular plexiglas skylight in the center. The design was by Bob McElroy, who had built one in Big Sur.

The school — teenagers building their own homes — resonated with the press in those days. Life magazine came and took photos, and Time published an article on us. I’m working on and off on a book on the ’60s and it will include the Pacific High School story.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

5 Responses to Martin’s Pod

  1. The domes you and Jay Baldwin designed and built at Pacific High School were a powerful stimulus to the back to the land movement. More important,
    the inspiration and guidance you gave, building the shop and infusing the students with can-do confidence changed a lot of young lives. More than anything else, it is what I remember and cherish about that experience. More than a few of those students went on to study engineering, architecture and went for to build domes and creative lives.

  2. I suspect that 1/4″ plywood dome is no longer standing? Is there a big subdivision in its spot? By the way, your host server or its bandwidth could use some assistance.

  3. my suspicion is that 1/4″ plywood would not hold the shingle nails the day it was built.

    like many things in life, reality gets in the way of ideas.

  4. Not even sure how you would bang shingle nails into bendy, springy 1/4″ ply. Maybe a pneumatic nail gun would work? Maybe they are tied on? Anyway, the whole structure looks like a compost heap waiting to happen!

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