From the Jacket:
“The first comprehensive consideration of the residential design of the back-to-the-land movement, “Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home Design” exposes the roots of “green” architecture as it travels across North America and to the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and Australia. From deep in the redwood forests of Big Sur, California, to the craggy, pink-sand beaches of Sardinia, Italy, this book visits houses in which cost-cutting DIY improvisation, eco-consciousness, art, and craft harmoniously converge.
Author Richard Olsen shares the stories of how, starting in the early 1960s, these daring, boldly creative designers and builders—some of them architect/carpenters, some of them entirely untrained in design and construction, and many of them in their 20s and 30s—sought to create a simplified, down-to-earth kind of house amid a world of political and environmental upheaval and technological dependency. Using sea boulders, old barn wood, wine vats, stained-glass windows from churches, and a host of other treasures that were at one point bound for landfills, these designer-builders created deeply personal, one-of-a-kind dwellings—some for as little as $1,000.”
“Today we experience increasingly standardized and commodified homes and lives. In this beautifully written and illustrated book, Richard Olsen shows us another way—a path toward beauty and comfort in harmony with nature.”— Sim Van der Ryn, Founder, EcoDesign Collaborative
Source: Richard Olsen.org
23 thoughts on “Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly House Design”
I plan to build a cave home in rustico area with nice view over the ocean in Canary Islands.
Please let ne know if any similar expertise available.
Hey, have you found out who the designer is of this space? Curious, thanks
You’ll have to contact the author.
Dear Mr. Owen:
I am ready to start the project of building my first home. My daughter, Sofia, lives on a hilltop…she just gave birth. My dream is to live next to her. There is a community here that will help me. I need plans, and ideally instructions for a two to three bedroom house.
Unfortunately, Owen died a few years ago, but his home plans and “Earthbag Building Guide” are still available. You can review these and purchase them from the links under House Plans on this blog. Also, there is much more information available at http://www.earthbagbuilding.com
Wanting to build a 2storey sandbag house approx 150m/sq each level.
Wandering how to do a suspended slab and will the sandbag walls hold this?
Do I do starter bars in a ringbeam as I would a normal block house?
Any info on 2 story info on sand/earthbag houses would be welcome and not necessarily a traditional square or rectangle house would also be great!
No problem doing suspended slabs. Tie it into the bond beam. See Kelly’s design used in Puerto Vallarta.
Earthbag walls can carry 10x the compression load as wood stud walls. That report is on our Earthbag Building.com Testing page.
Two-story structures as less efficient than one story structures because you have to move a lot of heavy materials high on the wall. Consider lightweight building methods for the second story.
Round shapes are stronger than square shapes. See this roundhouse Instructable for one example.
Pls i want to biuld earthen cottages in my village i need an architect that can volunteer to send me the art work for round cottages. Something like hand made homes.
We have thousands of pages of free information like this Instructable:
You don’t necessarily need an architect, especially if you build small and simple and don’t have codes. And if you do need an architect for some reason, it’s probably best to hire someone local who is familiar with local regulations, soil conditions, etc.
The water effect inherent in the flooring design is brilliant.
The way the stairs create the feeling of a waterfall, down to the glossy tile reflecting pool, to the rougher sandy-esque beach of adjacent floor tile, and the big boulders that seem to be waiting for the next high tide before waves batter them again, it’s almost as if one can smell the salt spray.
Makes me want to enjoy a clam bake with friends right there on the floor.
I half expect that dog sculpture to dig up some critter and bring it to the camera as a hunting prize all covered in sand.
The only missing components are pretty girls in bikinis. Guess they are all camera shy.
I really like the light, airy feeling. This look wouldn’t work too well in our house though. Our dogs like to rub their dirty hair against the walls after wrestling outside in the dirt.
Sadly, the only thing a building code inspector would see in that photo are the missing and non-compliant railings. Well, that and the missing electrical receptacles every 6 feet, unless they are extremely well hidden. Of course, he’d also need to see an engineers stamp approving the use of the logs in the ceiling.
Nope, the inspector would hate it all. Call in the bulldozer and demolish the place. The inspector doesn’t like it. It’s not a boring box made out of kindling. Can’t allow that. The inspector is really doing the home owner a favor by calling for it to be torn down. He only cares about their safety right? Well… maybe if the homeowner offers to invite him to a bikini party and slips him a few Benjamins he’ll look the other way and allow the owners to live in a house they love.
Sad but true. I wish some major muckraker journalists would expose the building code scam.
Allowing owner-builders much greater freedom to build what they want would trigger a massive housing boom and provide a huge boost to the economy. But ooh no, too many people would lose out on their piece of the [corrupt] pie. Loosening the regulations would unleash a massive demand for freedom of choice that could not be stopped. One thing would lead to another and soon people would throw off all their shackles.
No problem about your dogs, Owen.
Just adjust the design slightly. Instead of the secluded romantic beach theme, go for the fun off-leash Dog Beach style.
Lots of places to hide Dog Treats so that you can play “sniff and seek”.
Could even include a custom Dogwash. Let the doggie wash runoff flow down to water a Dogwood tree? (Probably not native to Thailand.)
THIS place is pure beauty. What a work of art. Do you know where this is located?
Yeah, it’s a stunner. No idea where it is. The photo looks similar to another one we published about two years ago. It was mostly white interior with large arches. That photo was very popular and so that’s one reason I decided to use this new photo. Skim the book at a good bookstore and you’ll probably discover where the home is.
Thanks. You gotta’ quit showing pictures like these. I’m getting confused. I’m SUPPOSED to build Bag End but, with pictures like these……Seriously these are true works of art. Maybe something to consider with the right location and the right natural formations. Sheeezzz…you’re making it hard to try and stick to one theme. Haha….
You might want to spend a few hours in a very good bookstore (#1 largest in your state, etc.) and browse expensive architecture coffee table books. There are dozens of books like this filled with large glossy photos.
It looks like they are designed by Savin J. Couëlle (http://www.couelle.com/).
Thank you! I got goosebumps looking at the photos on Savin’s site. I’ll probably feature them in an upcoming blog post. Thanks again. Much appreciated.
Thanks very much….I’ve added this to my favorites spot. I’m still not 100% sure it’s from there but, it’s still a keeper.
Books like this are a great source of inspiration for home ideas and this looks like a good one.