small homes (122)

Exhibition of Shelter Books in Berlin Now

Article and video of exhibition of our books, Domebook One, Domebook 2, and Shelter in Berlin (translated from the German). This is the same exhibit, that was at the Biennale Architettura in Venice in 2021, titled “There Are Walls that Want to Prowl” (a line from a poem by Richard Brautigan that was in Shelter.) The exhibit runs in Berlin until January 15, 2023.

For my adventures in Venice last year, see: lloydkahn.com/?s=venice


Actually, Lloyd Kahn is not an architect. Nevertheless, he builds houses himself and writes about how people can live in harmony with nature. A new exhibition at the German Architecture Center in Berlin shows its utopian power.

How would we like to live?

“In the early 1970s he was already dealing with the questions that still concern us today,” says critic Laura Helena Wurth: How do we want to live together, in small families, large communities and what can that look like? Do we want to live in homes treated as commodities, or more in tune with nature?

His first experiments with building forms and typologies resulted in “domes,” round tents. At the opening of the exhibition in Berlin, Kahn admitted his mistake from back then: “Domes don’t work.” One cannot add to these round, closed constructions. According to Wurth, we can learn from him for the way we build today, that we need flexible architecture that can adapt.

Kahn’s life consists of mistakes, he told the curators, and back then he made a mistake that he had to correct. So Kahn stopped printing his book Domebook 2 and published Shelter.

Don’t build for eternity

According to Wurth, Kahn’s architecture is one that also breaks down. And then evolves. The builder recedes behind it and the people who live in it come to the fore. “Sustainable does not mean that something has to last forever. If we build a house out of concrete today, the CO2 emissions will go through the roof.” A house made of wood could break down, but would have a much better ecological balance.

According to Wurth, however, this idea is difficult to implement in an urban environment like Berlin. It’s also about space. Nevertheless, there is an “uncanny utopian power” in these works by Lloyd Kahn.

The exhibition “There Are Walls that Want to Prowl” can be seen until January 15, 2023 at the German Architecture Center in Berlin.

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Could Homes Built of Bamboo Help Solve the Climate Crisis?

Photos by Jonathan Davis / Spaces808.com/. Reprinted with permission

From The Mercury News, Sept. 28, 2022

Julia M. Chan | CNN

While bamboo has been used in construction in Asia for thousands of years, it’s starting to catch on in sustainable housing development in parts of the United States and other places in the world.

Bamboo Living co-founder and chief architect David Sands is at the forefront of modern sustainable bamboo construction. His Hawaiian-based company specializes in creating bamboo homes and other buildings, with clients including rock star Sammy Hagar, actress Barbara Hershey, music mogul Shep Gordon, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar — and Sands himself.

The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Why bamboo? What makes it an ideal material for construction and the environment?

The giant bamboos are the fastest-growing woody plant on the planet. If you go to the Guinness Book of World Records, I think it was between two and three feet a day that they recorded it growing. So you end up with these plants that are 100 feet tall in just a couple of months. By year three, you’ve got incredible building material, and that’s when we harvest for our houses.

Because it’s the fastest-growing plant, it’s probably the fastest natural way to get CO2 (carbon dioxide) out of our atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, it’s taking that CO2 and turning it into sugars and then into actual fiber, the storage mechanism for the atmospheric carbon. And that’s a big deal in terms of getting the CO2 out of the atmosphere rapidly.

Normally when you harvest a tree, you kill the tree, and it’s got to start all over. And with the bamboo, every year it’s sending up new trunks, so you just harvest a percentage of those trunks and it just keeps growing. The plants can live up to 120 years. You know how you just keep mowing the lawn and the grass keep popping back? It’s really like that — it is a grass. It’s the biggest of the grasses.

From an architect’s perspective, can you talk about bamboo’s strength and flexibility?

It’s an incredibly strong material. On a weight basis, it’s actually stronger than steel, which is much, much heavier than the same cross section of bamboo. Bamboo has more than twice the strength of the wood usually used for construction, and it’s got a compressive strength similar to concrete.

We’ve had our buildings go through multiple Category 5 hurricanes, up to 200 mile-an-hour winds. We’ve had our buildings go through up to 6.9 on the Richter Scale in terms of seismic events, or earthquakes. Because the bamboo is so much lighter weight and stronger on a weight basis, it can flex and then recover.

Where have you built homes? And is there potential to go elsewhere?

We’ve got homes in the Caribbean, in the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, (and) Southern California now. I was just in Florida working on a project. I’m going to India to meet with a group that wants to build our homes there.

There’s definitely the opportunity to go pretty much into any climate. I think stylistically the homes that we’ve done thus far have all had that kind of tropical feel to them. But there was a client yesterday that wants to do a project (on) Long Island, which would be really fun.

Have you seen an increase in interest in bamboo homes?

Yeah, there is. We have never been busier and we’re expanding production now. I think the concern with the climate crisis has really gotten to the forefront of people’s attention, and really being able to make personal choices that directly impact that is a big deal.

It’s certainly what got me started. I built a home for myself on Maui 30 years ago and I was trying to be as sustainable as I could be. But then they delivered the lumber to build the house, and it was really a gut punch of, like, that’s a whole forest! And that’s happening every time, for every house in the United States. And I just felt like, “I’ve got to do something different.”

You live in a bamboo home now. What’s it like?

I love it. There’s a connection to nature in terms of just knowing that the house itself is helping solve the climate crisis. But then the beauty of it, the shapes and forms we’re able to do with it that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do with dimensional material; it really is like living in a piece of furniture. All of the handcrafted joinery, beautiful radiating rafters and beams, they add a level of beauty to the building.

Article sent us by Maui Surfer

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Cottage in Australia Inspired by Our Book Home Work

Hi Lloyd 🙂

I’m a long time reader and lover of your wonderful books — thank you so much for sharing the treasures you find and inspiring so many builders out there. You have a great eye for beauty in natural and built form.

Here is a structure I built inspired by works I have seen in your books (Home Work is still my fave!).

Thanks again for bringing positivity and sharing the joy.

Be well.

Ben Anderson,
Wollongong, Australia

Cuttlefish Cottage: Latest build. About 50 tons of soil on the roof, all glass (apart from louvres) was destined for the crushers, so I built windows and doors to fit the glass. Mud brick walls covered in local white clay ‘paint’ I made, all furniture & kitchen from hard rubbish piles or off ‘Gumtree’ (like Craigslist), local made steel beams (we have a steel mill in town). All hardwood timber from salvage, e-crete floors (using clan, fly-ash & recycled aggregate), trombe wall, passive solar design, vegetable garden on the roof (makes amazing watermelon!!!), solar hot water, amazing ‘landscape tanks’ for retaining walls and water storage combined, outdoor kitchen for our market garden (check out ‘Popes Produce‘ on Instagram/F-book) and heaps more!

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Off-Grid Cabin

Lloyd Kahn’s books were instrumental in Josh and I creating our very own off-grid cabin. Please consider this an open invitation to visit us anytime! Please see attached photos of our cabin that Josh built entirely by himself, as well some of our favorite treasures!

Peace and copious amounts of blessings upon each and everyone of you for all that you do! Keep up the good work! We love what you’re creating! We look forward to hearing and collaborating with you soon!

Take good care,
Jessica and Josh Courson

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Vanessa Renwick Discovers Secrets in Her 115-Year-Old Portland House

breathe love, breathe light.

I’ve lived in this house for thirty years now. I sit within it and study it, inside and out. I love transforming it, as I love transforming spaces for installations. To create a vision of beauty. Sometimes I hear the house telling me things … that wainscoting is needed where the wallboard is that someone put up in the kitchen. I take off the wallboard and the wainscoting is already there, has been all along, waiting to breathe in the sunlight.

That a door needs to be between the two small bedrooms, I take off the fake wood paneling and there is a doorway already there.

For years I debated taking down two walls to make the house more open, but then I would lose my guest room. I finally decided to just widen the doorway in between the kitchen and the living room. I had taken the door off the hinges years ago anyway. When the doorway trim came off, there was a wadded-up piece of material jammed under it. I was afraid I would break it if I tried to unfold it, as it was stiff like newspaper. It was covered in dust and dried blood. I soaked it in oxygen bleach three times over and hung it outside on the clothesline.

It dried as you see it in the photo, holding that beautiful form. I knew that Volga Germans built this house in 1908, and I contacted Steven Schreiber, who has a site dedicated to their history. The story continues here.

kboo.fm/media/50048-vanessa-renwick-and-oregon-department-kick-ass 

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Straw Bale Guest House in Idaho Inspired by Shelter Book

Hello,

I’m writing because we have just recently completed a straw bale ADU in our backyard in Boise, Idaho that all came about because of (1) a pregnancy and (2) seeing Lloyd Kahn speak at Bookshop Santa Cruz promoting Small Homes: The Right Size years ago. I wanted to share our story.

My husband and I had moved from Santa Cruz to the Santa Cruz Mountains (Boulder Creek right outside of Big Basin). We had the big dream of starting from scratch on an off-grid property and building a structure over time utilizing natural building principles. We had taken a straw bale building workshop at Real Goods/Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA and fell in love with straw bale building. That first winter was tough. It rained so much that we barely had the ability to get that infrastructure going. There were trees falling and mudslides. Leaky roofs and mice. No power, no running water.

Then we found out we were pregnant and needed to rethink whether we would realistically be able to both work full-time in Santa Cruz, commute 45 minutes each way, and build a home while taking care of a small child. Land, permits, building materials, daycare, etc. all added up financially so to live in that area we would both have to work full-time jobs. How could we do that and build a home? It was daunting.
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