Two-story Mud House in Togo, Africa

Photo by Yoshio Komatsu from his children’s book Wonderful Houses Around the World. This is next to a large baobab tree in the Tamberma region of Togo. The outside of the house is painted red with paint from the nut of the Karite tree. Bedrooms are on the second story, animals on first story. Note goose and goslings heading for their ramp on right side. Bones hanging on walls are to scare away evil spirits. Nine family members live here.

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:

2 Responses to Two-story Mud House in Togo, Africa

  1. I love this home so much! It brings out the primitive anarchist in me.
    Corbusier said:
    “my starting point is still the same: I insist on right-angled intersections. The intersections shown here are all perfect.”
    James Scott wrote a book “Seeing Like A State”, quotes are from a review of that book:
    Scott uses Le Corbusier as the epitome of five High Modernist principles.

    First, there can be no compromise with the existing infrastructure. It was designed by superstitious people who didn’t have architecture degrees, or at the very least got their architecture degrees in the past and so were insufficiently Modern. The more completely it is bulldozed to make way for the Glorious Future, the better.

    Second, human needs can be abstracted and calculated. A human needs X amount of food. A human needs X amount of water. A human needs X amount of light, and prefers to travel at X speed, and wants to live within X miles of the workplace. These needs are easily calculable by experiment, and a good city is the one built to satisfy these needs and ignore any competing frivolities.

    Third, the solution is the solution. It is universal. The rational design for Moscow is the same as the rational design for Paris is the same as the rational design for Chandigarh, India. As a corollary, all of these cities ought to look exactly the same. It is maybe permissible to adjust for obstacles like mountains or lakes. But only if you are on too short a budget to follow the rationally correct solution of leveling the mountain and draining the lake to make your city truly optimal.

    Fourth, all of the relevant rules should be explicitly determined by technocrats, then followed to the letter by their subordinates. Following these rules is better than trying to use your intuition, in the same way that using the laws of physics to calculate the heat from burning something is better than just trying to guess, or following an evidence-based clinical algorithm is better than just prescribing whatever you feel like.

    Fifth, there is nothing whatsoever to be gained or learned from the people involved (eg the city’s future citizens). You are a rational modern scientist with an architecture degree who has already calculated out the precise value for all relevant urban parameters. They are yokels who probably cannot even spell the word architecture, let alone usefully contribute to it. They probably make all of their decisions based on superstition or tradition or something, and their input should be ignored For Their Own Good.

    a worthy read here:

  2. MS, I just read this (9/12). Yep. Intuition, art, and ages-long experience vs. science. Bucky’s Design Scientist, who will prescribe the same-geometry solutions for “mankind,” regardless of site, customs, weather, or aesthetics. When people ask me about design, I tell them to look around the countryside where they’re going to build, at farm buildings, barns, old houses. Seldom is an architect going to design something practical yet beautiful. You have “Builders of the Pacific Coast”? Look at the designs of Lloyd House in and around Vancouver Island. (Send address if you don’t have it.)

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