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The New Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically Sound Home Paperback – July 23, 1998
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The Natural House Book, first published in 1989, originated the phrase "natural house" and established the presence of the Green movement in home design. Author David Pearson has updated and expanded this eco-aware homebuilder's classic with new resource listings, a new photo-essay in the introduction, and revised text describing the latest and best developments in natural construction.
The first part of the book deals with the interaction between the home and the external environment, the second part with the home's components, and the third part with the design of the living space itself. Throughout the book, well-drawn illustrations and numerous photographs show how enlightened home design makes Green living easier by encouraging builders and residents to take advantage of natural light and heat. They're also a powerful tool for convincing those who might not yet be committed to natural living, as many of the homes are luxurious and warm looking. (The natural bathrooms are so beautiful and comfortable, one can only wonder why anyone settles for the prefab "luxury master baths" that the construction industry pushes on new homebuilders.) It's truly a book that takes a larger view, appealing not only to those with fewer resources who have always wanted to live simply, but also to those who can afford to live where they want, in effect saying to them, "Our way is better--for the environment and for you."
About the Author
David Pearson DIP ARCH (HONS) MCRP, RIBA, is an architect and planner who has been actively involved in inner city and new community housing for most of his working life in Britain and the USA. Since the 1980s he has been active in the fields of ecological design and Gaia philosophy (inspired by the view of the Earth as a living organism). With degrees from both the University of London and the University of California, Berkeley, he works, lectures, and travels widely. David Pearson is Founder and Chair of the Trustees of the Ecological Design Association, an educational charity, and Editor of Eco-Design, the Association's journal. As Managing Director of Gaia Environments Ltd, he has been architectural consultant on a range of exciting projects. He is also a Founder Member of Gaia International, an innovative group of international eco-architects who collaborate in competitions and architectural events.
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The contributors to this book are those who want to help us to tread lightly on this earth and find our way through the complex maze, realizing that the hundreds of small, and perhaps seemingly unimportant, decisions do make a difference and we must remember that we have an influence on others through the home that we create.
The reason that I read this book was that I want a well body in a well home in a well earth and I needed practical, down-to-earth advice on how to get there while building our house. I am aware that the house of an unwitting builder can actually damage health and do damage to the earth and that it is not easy today to find the path to ensure that our house would be a healing place for body, mind, spirit and the planet. I want to take advantage of all the wonders of science, our latest technologies and new materials but want to reject those which could be harmful. I don't want to turn the clock back and live according to the best of a bygone age but want to do the best possible job in today's world. I am also aware that our world will be different at some point in the future - whether it be very soon or some years away. We cannot take cheap fuel and clean water for granted, and there will be increasing pressure to adopt a sustainable life style as poorer nations seek a similar standard of living for their people as I seek for my family. So was this book helpful to me? The answer is yes.
The book has been written by people who have an interest in and experience in ecological architecture and the Gaia movement (inspired by the view of the earth as a living planet) and is divided into three parts. The first provides the big picture telling us how the home interacts with the environment and the user. The second part shows how to build, service and furnish a home for health and ecology while the third applies the principles to the design of spaces in the home.
I had not studied the Gaia Home Charter, which is the heart and soul of the philosophical approach adopted by the authors, but it seems to me to be sensible and to reflect the values I would want to be known for. The Charter does not ask me to give up those things that I truly value - in fact it urges us to do only what we are ready for and can carry through - but helps to ensure that all people on the earth, if they adopt the Charter, have a better chance to enjoy those same pleasures and benefits.
The second part goes into detail about the various systems such as solar windows, solar walls, sunspaces, natural cooling, energy conservation, prudent water use, indoor air pollution and the criteria for selecting healthy materials.
The third part gives advice, examples, pictures and photographs of how to integrate the philosophy of Part I with the details of Part II to produce beautiful, harmonious, peaceful, and practical living spaces.
Having read this book, I feel that my wife and I are better equipped to build a house which is a practical place to raise three active children but which reflects the values which we want to espouse in our lives. I have a better understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of other cultures, ancient and modern, and how to blend these into our house in a manner which balances the demands of ecology, health, and spirit, integrated into the natural systems which surround us. I have found that practical restrictions do not allow me to be as environmental as I would have liked to have been, but I have taken a step in the right direction by reading and acting upon the wisdom contained in this book.
If we wish to do something positive for the environment, there is no better place to start than in our homes and in our personal lives. People in West Germany and the Scandinavian countries have already adopted the lifestyle proposed in this book so there is nothing impossible about making a positive change to demonstrate respect for the environment and care for our personal health. Whether or not you are building, renovating, advising or just interested, this is a good book to guide us through the maze.
I am Dan Stih, author of Healthy Living Spaces: Top 10 Hazards Affecting Your Health.