Architecture (80)

Greg Clark's Handmade House

Hi Lloyd,

I’ve been fascinated by handmade houses for years. I came across a book in the ’70s called The Wood Butcher’s Art. I now teach in a traditional school in India, and teach my students about such houses. With their help I made a house here in West Bengal from mostly local timber and I thought you might be interested. We have several of your books which are very inspiring. The boys made several models based on a reading of some of your books. If you are interested I can send more photos. The house was inspired by my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, and Assam.

I teach in a traditional school in West Bengal, India. We have international students and I wanted to show them that you can build a great house out of local renewable materials. The trees for the frame and most of the floors was all local. Many students came and helped me build the house. It took about two years. I wanted to use shingles for the roof, but we can’t get cedar here. So I had to invest quite a bit to make teak shingles, which were used historically in tropical places like Hawaii or Mauritius. The walls are made from ‘Slipstraw’ but we used the abundant eucalyptus sawdust that we generated instead of straw. We finished the walls with a lime sand plaster. It came out so well we had no need to paint. The wood was finished with a mix of local beeswax and pine turpentine.

The Bhaktivedanta Academy Gurukula, a traditional Vedic school with international students in West Bengal, India is helping to construct a series of houses for teachers. The boys of the academy spend a couple of hours each day learning basic construction methods based on age-old building traditions and using mostly local materials. The school’s oxen and horse also assist in the process. The boys are from all over the world: Russia, Ukraine, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, different parts of India, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. Before starting to build the boys spent several lessons studying your books, Builders of the Pacific Coast, Shelter 1-2, etc.

–Greg Clark

Sasha making pegs

Post a comment (4 comments)

Driftwood Shacks Publication Date Today

It’s now available in independent bookstores.

I’m doing the following appearances:

  • Saturday, March 16th, 7 PM at Mollusk Surf Shop, 4500 Irving Street, San Francisco (maps)
  • Tuesday, March 19th, 7 PM at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz (maps)
  • Wednesday, April 17th, 6:30 PM, Gallery Bookshop, 319 Kasten Street, Mendocino, Calif. (maps)
  • Friday, April 26th, 7 PM, Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, Calif. (maps)

Some early reader feedback:

“…a breathtaking new book…”
–Kay LeRoy, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.
Driftwood Shacks is spectacular!”
–J. Tony Serra, Lawyer, San Francisco
“…a marvelous book with lovely pictures of the California Coast.”
–Eliot Buchdruker, CPA, San Francisco
“Driftwood Shacks is splendid, a tribute to Lloyd’s fine and undimmed eye.”
–John Van der Zee, author
“…fascinating, ephemeral forms of spontaneous architecture.”
–Elise Cannon, Publishers Group West
“…fantastic new book”
–Chris “Uncle Mud” McClellan, natural builder
Post a comment

Waioli Mission Hall, Hanalei

Waioli Mission Hall stands as a major monument of Hawaiian architectural history, the primary inspiration for the Hawaiian double-pitched hipped roof so widely popularized by C. W. Dickey in the 1920s. Built by the Reverend William P. Alexander, Dickey’s grandfather, the plaster walls of the frame structure repose beneath a sprawling roof and encircling lanai. The roof, originally thatched, was shingled in 1851. Similarly, the freestanding, ohia-framed belfry at the rear of the mission was of thatch construction, but most likely received a covering of shingles in the same year. The form of the twenty-five-foot-high belfry drew upon a long British and American colonial tradition. Common in its day, today it stands as the sole surviving example of its type in Hawaii.

This was the third church building on the site, with the earlier thatched edifices falling prey to fire and storms. It remained a center for worship until the completion of Waioli Huiia Church in 1912, when it became a community hall for the church, a function it still serves today. The building has been thrice restored: in 1921 by Hart Wood, in 1978 by Bob Fox, and again in 1993, following Hurricane Iniki, by Designare Architects.

Post a comment (1 comment)

Home in Fort Bragg, California

Photo by Lloyd Kahn

Lots of nice details here: gable at left, three-sided pop-out on lower right, nicely fitted roofs over windows in two gables. Non-sagging eave lines indicate sound foundation. Why don’t architects come up with such simple, practical, time-tested designs these days? This place looks lived-in.

Post a comment

Curved-Roof Shed


This is 10′ by 10′. Rafters made of four 1″ by 4″ by ⅜″ redwood bender board, 16′ long, bent, glued and clamped together. Roof sheathing is 1 × 6 redwood fence boards from Home Depot. Siding is ⅜″ rough-sawn exterior DF plywood. Eventually I’ll panel the inside with used fence boards. Flooring is used yellow pine T&G from Heritage Salvage in Petaluma. Windows (used) from Urban Ore in Berkeley.

Billy Cummings has done most of the work here, including cutting and fitting double-wall polycarbonate greenhouse glazing under the curved eaves.

Next step is to build a sliding door for one half of the end wall shown here so a bed can be rolled out onto the deck for nighttime star gazing. Jay Nelson built a sliding door for his shop that gave me the idea.

Note: A curved roof is infinitely more time-consuming (in many ways) as compared with, say, a shed roof or a gable roof. BUT the space underneath is wonderful and something I highly recommend for tiny homes. If you take the time to build a roof like this, it will give you a feeling of spaciousness and avoid the claustrophobia of small spaces. Curved roofs are the secret to the good feeling in Gypsy wagons (vardos).

Post a comment

Boathouse Built by Dean Ellis

This is a graceful little steel-framed boathouse that Dean built on the beach. Posts are 4″-5″ square steel, 8′ on center. The steel purlins are 2½″ steel tubes. The 1″×6″ sheathing is welded to the steel purlins with nails. Photo by @lloyd.kahn

Post a comment (3 comments)
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!