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The Barefoot Architect Paperback – October 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Shelter Publications, Inc. (October 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936070420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936070421
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I very much recommend this thick and interesting book.
Jack Fulton
We loved it so much we set out trying to find out where we could get more copies.
William Steen
The book was written so a person with barely some school could understand it.
Ehret

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Muleman on January 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the first English translation of The Barefoot Architect (TBA), which was originally written in Spanish in Mexico in 1982. Obviously written with a Third-World audience in mind, TBA nevertheless has a multitude of useful ideas that could be incorporated into North American buildings. At first glance this handbook's 697 pages are intimidating, but fear not - this tome is extremely user-friendly, as it employs only simple drawings and brief text to convey a wealth of handy ideas for laymen/owner builders and professional contractors alike. The only exception to that last statement is that TBA has a rather skimpy index.

TBA starts off with a thoughtful design overview which shows how to situate your house, say, to take advantage of the prevailing winds, solar orientation, terrain, and vegetation on your building site. Subsequent chapters cover considerations and methods for building in deserts, jungles, and temperate zones. Granted, not many Norte Americanos will want to build their homes with bamboo, thatch or handmade adobe bricks, but there are plenty of examples of materials and construction techniques that I wouldn't hesitate to use where I live in Northwest Wyoming.

The use of modern insulating, siding, and roofing materials that would be familiar and available to Americans is little discussed. Remember that the primary audience for this handbook resides not in North America/First World, but in the southern hemisphere, where most citizens don't have our economic wherewithal. I would not use a lot of TBA's suggestions in the building of my primary residence, but for outbuildings, walls, gardens, get-away cabins, etc., I would use this book in a heartbeat for my construction bible. Thoreau would have loved it.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By William Steen on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
After my wife and I had finished writing The Straw Bale House and were beginning work in Mexico on a number of projects, we came across this book during our travels. We loved it so much we set out trying to find out where we could get more copies. The search took us to a bookstore in Mexico City where we bought several cases to bring back to the States. They were so popular with friends that we gave away/sold all of them in almost no time at all. It's just a marvelous little book with simple but very clear illustrations. Quite truthfully I'm totally amazed that Lloyd Khan the publisher came across this book and decided to print it in English. But then again, that's what makes Lloyd the entertaining publisher that he is.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fulton on November 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm in the process of re-building the kitchen, bathroom, foundation and an addition to our home. Picking up this book to peruse made my imagination wander and provided tremendous insight into not only how to go about these significant changes but also provided new ways based upon sensible and older techniques. There are so many ideas, drawings and explanations that even if you thought you had everything at hand and knew just what you were going to do, this could very much make your work better. I very much recommend this thick and interesting book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ehret on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
The book was written so a person with barely some school could understand it. So a learner without a professor, could see the diagrams and know what to do if he is going to build by himself. However, architects like the book too, because is a great didactic tool.Not that they did not know what to do but the book is good.

To give you an idea of how clear and good is the book, from 10 people interested in constructing by themselves or with a company, 9 wanted to get a copy of the book, after looking at it (in spanish ran out few years ago).

However, the settings are underdeveloped areas of the world. After reading this book you could embrace any the study of sophisticated "ecological" systems. You can later keep going with modern ecological proposals, but without losing ground, because you will already know what is the purpose behind that "great material" or "new" technique.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lindsey Round-Turner on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Why aren't all books like this?
Stunning piece of work which is accessible to all those in and out of the field of the built environment.
Although all the principals derive from vernacular architecture, they are still as relevant today as when they were first conceived. The illustrations on each and every page make the brick sized book very easy to flip through. This is a real encyclopaedia of timeless knowledge for all those who care about healthy and appropriate building.
You won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Hart on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the first English edition of a book originally written in Spanish, published in the 1980's and distributed widely in Mexico and throughout Latin America. Shelter Publications made this new edition available in 2008 because of the relevance of the content to our current times.

A massive paperback of about 700 pages, The Barefoot Architect could almost be considered a complete compendium of indigenous building techniques from Latin America. Van Lengen's approach to explaining the concepts presented is extremely graphic, so the book is full of thousands of hand-drawn images, and these images really help convey the subtleties of designs and ideas.

At the outset the reader is given the basics of how to design a house, along with the fundamentals of drawing plans. The constant objective is to provide the tools for people to come up with their own plans based on the guidelines outlined in the book.

In designing a house, the local climate will determine many aspect of what is appropriate. To help emphasize this van Lengen divides climate zones into "humid tropical," "dry tropical" and "temperate" zones. Most of the strategies presented for "temperate" zones are applicable to building in North America and Europe, although these regions could benefit from a greater emphasis on insulation.

Guidelines are given for choosing a site based on environmental considerations in order to provide sufficient ventilation, light, heat, drainage, etc. The recommendations go beyond single residential development, with public or commercial buildings and whole communities embraced; this is also a book about urban or village planning to some extent.

Each climate zone is examined in detail according to what house shapes and design elements are appropriate.
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