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Builders of the Pacific Coast Paperback – October 28, 2008


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Builders of the Pacific Coast + Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter + Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Shelter Publications, Inc.; 1St Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936070439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936070438
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Whether you start with the Book of Genesis or the Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, we humans have long loved tales about creating a new world - or building one from scratch. Lloyd Kahn's new book, Builders of the Pacific Coast, is primarily an account of builders and hand-crafted structures dating from the 60s to the 80s. Yet the rugged coastal setting of his odyssey - a blue and green world from Point Reyes Peninsula to Vancouver Island - invokes a simpler, more pristine time, an Eden of sorts. When forests grew down to the sea, building codes were few, lumber was plentiful (often free) and anyone with skill, a strong back and the courage to try could create something beautiful and enduring.

On every page of this book is something shocking and delightful. A boat with legs. A roof like a leaf. A caravan with eyes. A split-cedar woodshed shaped like a bird. Stair rails so sinuous and snakey they might come to life and grab you. Sculpted earth walls. Round windows and arched doors. Roofs curved like seagull wings. Grottos choked with ferns and flowers.

Not that there's any shortage of creatures and fantastical characters. Just off-camera lurk orcas, eagles and bears. And then there are the builders themselves. There hasn't been a cast of characters this colorful since Ken Kesey packed up his Underwood.

Builders of the Pacific Coast rolls on, mile after mile, in an odyssey so firsthand and vivid that you feel every rut in the road. And come to know, as Lloyd Kahn did, the soul of the place. The strong hands and big hearts of the people, the staggering abundance of the land and sea, the leaping joy that such a place still exists. --Mike Litchfield, West Marin Citizen, October 30, 2008

Lloyd Kahn has done it again. This gifted photographer and storyteller has created a beautiful, inspiring and imaginative book about natural human shelter made by ordinary, artful hands. With Builders of the Pacific Coast, Kahn focuses the lens of his camera on the hand built structures he discovered journeying along the Pacific coast north to British Columbia from his home near San Francisco. As with his previous book Shelter, and its sequel "Home Work", Kahn lets the buildings and the builders speak mostly for themselves.

These buildings speak of wood and water, broad landscapes and natural elements, and the men and women who integrate these resources and inspirations into shelter and assemblages of natural beauty. While much of the book focuses on homesteads, boats, sculptural buildings of driftwood and stone, and more than forty builders, Kahn gives more than a third of the book to feature the work of three unique builders, Lloyd House, Bruno Atkey and SunRay Kelley.

This choice is a wise one, as each of these men has created a body of work worthy of a book or two each. Read Builders of the Pacific Coast just to see what these builders have done with trees. The structures House makes by "... (getting) the bullet out of the gun and then (running) after it to get it to hit the right spot" are a conundrum of simplicity and intricate complex assembly. Kelley's sense of whimsy, mammoth scale and sublime organic freedom may remind one of Spain's Gaudi. In Kelly's work we are treated to equally exotic, massive and sculptural buildings but of whole trees, straw and clay. Pioneering surfer and tinkerer Atkey seems to have made or assembled everything around him, from his knife to his stove to the houses he's built with fine craftsmanship and love. One of Kahn's photos of an Atkey seaside homestead interior looks like a sketch by M.C. Escher come to life in 3-D color and speaks to both the skill of the builder and the photographer.

Lloyd Kahn has likely done more to bring the work of natural builders into public consciousness than just about anyone in recent times. Countless times in recent years I have been told by owner-builders, designers, architects and pioneers of the natural building movement that one of Lloyd's books inspired their projects. I look forward to the new creations inspired by this latest very good work by Lloyd Kahn and his Shelter Publications. --Jack Stephens, Natural Building Network

From the Author


I finished laying out the last two pages of this book on a Sunday afternoon. I felt kind of elated, since it'd been such a long haul -- three years from start to finish. I decided to sleep on the beach that night, as the next day was my birthday and I wanted to watch the sunrise from the beach.

I took off on foot from home, with a pack and sleeping bag. It was early evening and a northwest wind was blowing pretty hard. When I got to my usual spot on the beach (about three miles), lo and behold -- here was this little driftwood shack. Perfect. I crawled inside. It felt good. Shelter from the wind, cozy, nice touches. A starfish over the doorway. Boards carefully fitted, no nails.

I rolled out my tarp and sleeping bag, stashed my pack, took off my shoes, patrolled the beach, and came back in time to watch the sunset from inside.

It was a perfect ending to this book on coastal homes -- this random little soulful building, a temporary assemblage on the Pacific Ocean, by an anonymous free-spirited builder. Put together from driftwood brought to this spot by ocean currents. Shelter from the wind and fog; a place to get out of the sun, to take a nap, to listen to the waves, to watch the sunset, to sleep at night -- shelter as simple as a roof overhead.
-LK

More About the Author

I started building almost 50 years ago, and have lived in a self-built home ever since. If I'd been able to buy a wonderful old good-feeling house, I might have never started building. But it was always cheaper to build than to buy, and by build-ing myself, I could design what I wanted and use materials I wanted to live with.

I set off to learn the art of building in 1960. I liked the whole process immensely. Hammering nails. Framing -- delineating space. Nailing down the sub-floor, the roof decking. It's a thrill when you first step on the floor you've just created.

Ideally I'd have worked with a master carpenter long enough to learn the basics, but there was never time. I learned from friends and books and by blundering my way into a process that required a certain amount of competence. My perspective was that of a novice, a homeowner -- rather than a pro. As I learned, I felt that I could tell others how to build, or at least get them started on the path to creating their own homes.

Through the years I've personally gone from post and beam to geodesic domes to stud frame construction. It's been a constant learning process, and this has led me into investigating many methods of construction -- I'm interested in them all. For five years, the late '60s to early '70s, I built geodesic domes. I got into being a publisher by producing Domebook One in 1970 and Domebook 2 in 1971.

I then gave up on domes (as homes) and published our namesake Shelter in 1973. We've published books on a variety of subjects over the years, and returned to our roots with Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter in 2004, The Barefoot Architect in 2008, Builders of the Pacific Coast in 2008, and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter in 2012.

Building is my favorite subject. Even in this day and age, building a house with your own hands can save you a ton of money (I've never had a mortgage) and -- if you follow it through -- you can get what you want in a home.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Excellent book, the pictures were gorgeous.
Boogerplasterpro
This is a table top book one wants others to peruse when visiting.
Jack Fulton
I love all of Lloyd Kahn's books on building.
carmin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fulton on November 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Living on the west coast I can see on a daily basis the influence of books on shelter by Lloyd Kahn. This latest effort is filled with in-depth coverage of over 40 unique builders/crafts-people, a lot of whom are in British Columbia. These are all what I'd call true homes built by people who are skilled but are artisans creating their own dwellings. One can barely read a page without getting an idea to do something creative for their own home. The photographs and writing are top notch and Lloyd's experience as a builder, as a communicator, as an avid environmentally conscious individual allows each person and place to come alive. This is a table top book one wants others to peruse when visiting. One does not need to move to the rural areas for the essence of such living is held within the over 250 pages of this beautiful visual hymn to the creative builder.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David W. Morley on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this book as a present for my daughter who lives in California. Of course, I didn't send it without giving it a quick once over. I loved it so much I've ordered another copy for my wife and myself. The choices of builders and examples of their art are wonderful and the photography is beautiful. I wish I was young enough to attempt some of these buildings. Sigh...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keith Goetzman on November 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've been coveting a lot of my neighbors' houses while browsing "Builders of the Pacific Coast" (Shelter Publications) by Lloyd Kahn, a photo-splashed book full of amazing, rustic, wood-built dwellings and shelters on islands and in other remote seaside locations in the Pacific Northwest.

The area's huge trees and ubiquitous driftwood lend themselves to curvaceous, organic design, and these builders take full advantage of these qualities in structures that range from a Hobbit-like gazebo to a spherical treehouse to grand but still-earthy luxury homes and spas. Many of the homes are reachable only by boat and perched in impossibly beautiful settings.

There's a strong countercultural thread to these builders, many of whom were inspired by Kahn's 1973 book "Shelter," a bible of sorts for that decade's back-to-the-land movement. And Kahn's laid-back writing style is full of metaphysical allusions and meandering asides about his travels, giving it a whiff of patchouli and B.C. bud. But looking at these homes, it's hard to doubt that there's "a vortex of creative carpentry energy in this part of the world," as the book states. Moss roofs, bentwood railings, hand-carved details, natural motifs, and Native influences complement the area's mossy, foggy splendor and speak to its natural and human history.
--Keith Goetzman, senior editor, Utne Reader
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Holly on July 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a great book with lots of ideas and imagination. you will want to crawl inside and live in this book. just wish there was more how to do it but well worth the money. anyone wanting to live an alternative lifestyle or build an amazing house with wood should have this book for inspiration and ideas.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By amequidanse on November 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is about freedom and beauty, building and soul. As a builder in France, it is so inspiring to have this book around and be able to connect to all these amazing people and projects. It helps me remember why I wanted to learn building, and that yes it is possible to build from the whole of being, hands, head and heart. It helps me believe in my visions even when other beliefs tell me they're too crazy.

I met this book after Homework and Shelter. I knew it existed but somehow I thought it would be less thrilling and rich that the two others which go all around the world. The Pacific coast is far from France! But it quickly became my favorite book and companion. I ordered it while I am building my own house, and it helped me to nourish my vision and make right (soulful, beautiful) decisions. I-love-this-book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michaela Graham on November 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought this book today at the Green Festival in San Francisco and - wow - I'm blown away by the creativity of these artisan builders. I guess most of these homes were built at a time and/or place where there were no building codes, as the first featured builder started by building a roof with support and then added everything else as he felt it should be. That's difficult to do in today's times of fully finished building plans and permits etc.

Being a builder of sorts myself (I've been renovating historic homes for years, but have moved to the SF Bay area in '07 and haven't done any since, due to the real estate market) I feel completely inspired and am chomping at the bit to do another major project.

I can recommend this book to anyone that is interested in building beyond the 'cookie-cutter'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Heather on November 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Builders of the Pacific Coast takes up where Homework left off, connecting the reader with these amazing people and their work. It gives me hope that the whole world isn't "little boxes made of tickey tackey".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Scott Knudsen on December 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
251 pages of WOW until your just left speechless by page after page of amazing home-built architecture. Excellent full colour photos and fascinating stories. If your a fan of the authors other books, "Shelter" and "Home Work" then this is a must have book.

I found it quite interesting that most of the builders in this book all own a copy of "Shelter". I guess what goes around comes around. And if your reading this Lloyd, I do look forward to yet newer editions of the "Shelter" series of books in the future.
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