natural building (39)

House Built of Bridge Timbers in Big Sur

In 1968, I moved from Mill Valley to Big Sur and worked as foreman on a job building this house out of bridge timbers. The architect was George Brook-Kothlow. George had purchased all the bridge timbers from the town of Duncan’s Mills on the Russian River; they tore down the redwood bridge to build one of concrete, and George had hand-hewn 12 × 12 posts, 16-foot-long 6-by-16s and 16-foot-long 8-by-22s.

Carpenters Paul and Seth Wingate went down with me and we lived on the site, Rancho Rico, a 400-acre ranch with two private beaches. We remodeled some chicken coops for living quarters.

I spent about a year on the project. It was a struggle. We had to splice together two 2-by-8s for the 32-foot-long rafters, and lift them into place with a boom on the back of the ranch backhoe. There were 11 concrete pours for the foundation, each one coming 40 miles down the winding coast from Monterey. I quit after we got the building framed.

About 10 years ago, I went down for a visit. The family had moved into the chicken coops and they were renting the house for $13,000 a month.

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Interior of Little 10′ by 10′ Cabin

For tiny homes, I like the curved roof (as in vardos or Gypsy cabins). It gives you a feeling of spaciousness, as opposed to, say, the typical steep gable roof used in tiny homes. Another factor, which I learned from master builder Lloyd House, was to have windows at eye level; this focuses your attention on the outside, and the room feels much larger than it actually is.

The paneling is from a recycled hot tub. I had the staves band-sawed. Insulation is with recycled denim. Most of the work on this was done by Billy Cummings.

More details on this building are in The Half-Acre Homestead.

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The Sculptured House

Hi Lloyd,

We like to inform you about a documentary from Sweden that follows the construction of our little natural house. We decided to put it for free on YouTube for everyone to share, in the hope it will inspire people to build their own natural house. Your books have always been a great inspiration and we often leave them lying around when we have guests to see who gets it 🙂 Thank you for sharing your work and vision.

Regards,
Dennis Rodie & Ayet Alers

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Teo Briseño’s Latest Sculptured Bathroom

Teo Briseño did the beautiful bathroom in SunRay Kelley’s temple dome at Harbin Hot Springs, near Middletown, California (which unfortunately burned down a few years ago). It’s shown in Builders of the Pacific Coast.

Here’s his most recent creation, a dome bathroom inside a conventional home in Southern California.


Hello Lloyd…

Here is most recent work of mine towards living in natural sculptured environments.

This dome is made with natural stone and wood; some is locally harvested and wood was cured for 2½ years.

Thin-shell dome construction of one-inch-thick cement over basalt rebar and mesh without metal, so will not rust, corrode or block natural bio-magnetics between the Earth and ourselves.

Planters are sculpted in wall: they include drip irrigation and recycling water drain to flush toilet.

Carbon-sequestering plasters: made of natural lime plaster, an “Old World” technology — warm, inviting, breathable, and is resistant to bacteria.

The shower is of the finest natural lime plaster, giving a smooth, burnished, monolithic finish called Tadelakt, and sheds water as ancient Moroccan bath houses do.

Offering natural bathrooms for healthy self-care environments…

Bringing the outdoors in … naturally, with ancient building ways.

Brisenoarts.org

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Virtual Presentation of The Half-Acre Homestead

I did a virtual presentation of my book, The Half-Acre Homestead on August 20, 2020) at Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of my favorite bookstores in the world. I usually do a bunch of bookstore appearances for each new book; this year I just got the first one done at City Lights, before Covid closed things down.

It was recorded. About 30 minutes are me doing a slide show from the book. The last 30 minutes are questions from the audience — what do I think of domes, A-frames, underground houses? How to build nowadays? Cob and strawbale and Hardy Board? Chickens. My image looks blurry (at least here) and I suspect this is because of our slow DSL connection. (C’mon Horizon, ride to our rescue!)

www.crowdcast.io/e/bookshop-santa-cruz-7

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Yurts in Cornwall

I recently got an Instagram post from Lisa Mudie at Mill Valley Yurts in Cornwall, U.K, along with some photos. (They rent yurts and cabins in a rural setting.) I asked her to email me, and she wrote:

“Thirteen years ago we started a rustic campsite in our beautiful Cornish Valley a few miles from the rugged Atlantic coast which has evolved over the years into a crazy mix of hobbit huts, wooden yurts, cabins, and gypsy vardos. All handmade by us using reclaimed materials and all Cornish timber. Our latest purchase is a mobile sawmill and 26 tonnes of local oak … now we can really start building!”


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Bamboo Building in Colombia

This is a four-story coffee drying plant built in the late 1800s on the banks of the Guacaica River in Caldas, Colombia. The entire building is framed with bamboo, structurally remarkable for the size of the building and the heavy tile roof. From the book Tropical Bamboo by Marcello Villegas; One of the best books ever on bamboo. All the buildings, furniture, and other bamboo objects in the book are in Colombia.

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Wonderful Houses Around the World

Yesterday I read in the paper that sales of children’s books are booming, due to schools being closed. This brought to mind our one and only children’s book, Wonderful Houses Around the World, by photographer Yoshio Komatsu and artist Akira Nishiyama.

There are 10 photographs by Yoshio of homes in different parts of the world. All the homes are built of natural materials — earth, wood, thatch, sod, bamboo, and stone.

Each photo is followed by a watercolor drawing of the inside of that home, showing the children and their parents going about their everyday activities: food gathering and processing, cooking, sleeping, working and playing.

The book is timely in this day and age: it shows what people do in their homes. Timely also because it’s great educational material for kids being home-schooled: look at what what kids your age are doing in other parts of the planet.

Yoshio is my favorite photographer of homes in the world. Not only are the homes invariably soulful, but his composition and lighting are perfect — and he has a knack for making people feel comfortable, so that the homeowners look natural, often laughing.

The book is $12.95 and you can order it through your independent bookstore, or from:

Note: We have a money-back guarantee on all of our books (no matter where you buy them). If for any reason you are dissatisfied, call us and we’ll return the full purchase price plus shipping. No need to return the book.

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