Both my grandfathers were carpenters and my father, an engineer, was a talented cabinetmaker. I inherited none of their skills or talent, though I do love the smell of sawdust, and on occasion, pick up a handsaw and try to cut a board, usually with disastrous results. Still, I am fascinated with houses, especially vernacular architecture and even more especially, homes made of mud.
Lloyd Kahn was the shelter editor for the Whole Earth Catalog and wrote the Domebooks One and Two in the seventies. He has been making houses and following vernacular architecture for many years. I love his books.
His new one, Tiny Homes Simple Shelter is crammed with photos, many submitted by the builders. They are all very small. Honestly, I do not think I could actually live in a traveler’s wagon – where would I put my books? my wheel? – but it is enchanting to dream of such a vagabond life, or better yet, conjure a wagon in the field behind the house.
I love all the houses Kahn showcases, but most of all the cob houses. Cob, made of clay balls with a bit of temper, is an ancient and widespread building material. It offers amazing freedom when it comes to design. Domes, curves, sculpted shelves – whatever you imagine. Cob holds the heat in winter and is cool is summer. And quiet. Perfect, I think, for a studio, a giant pot of a studio.