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Home Work:
Handbuilt Shelter

Sample Chapter:
Louie Frazier

Pages 4-5

Pages 6-7

Pages 8-9

Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter

BUILDERS: Louie Frazier

The image below is a two-page spread (pages 2-3) from Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter. Click on any of the photos on the image to see a larger popup window of that photo (close popup window before clicking another photo). Page text is included below the spread.

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Louie holding a glass of his homemade Cabernet
Louie's shop, with poured concrete walls
Interior of shop (looking through doors shown above). Structure was inspired by the painting of a Mandan earth lodge in Shelter (at right). This is a classic framing structure, with interior posts and beams providing mid-way support for rafters that span from lower exterior walls. Skylight has two layers of fiberglass: corrugated on outside, flat fiberglas on inside so there's an air space and good insulation. Interior of small circular studio (at right in picture above) attached to shop. Compression ring at peak is '39 Chevy truck wheel rim, rafters nest in the groove of the rim. Sheathing is two layers of 1/4" plywood (1/2" couldn't make the curves).
Desk in shop
Bedroom in shop before it was converted to studio
Crystal at top of mast catches morning sun.

More Sample Chapters:

Bill & Athena Steen
Cob Houses of Mud & Straw

Natural Buildings
Photography by
Catherine Wanek

Michael Kahn
Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert

The Yurts of Bill Coperthwaite

Mongolian Cloud Houses
How to make a Yurt & Live Comfortably

Page 2 Text: none

Page 3 Text: In the mid-'80s I went up to the northern California coast to shoot pictures of a house my ex-Bolinas neighbor Jack Williams had built (see p. 32). Jack was a surfer/fisherman/gardener who had had the foresight to get a 39-acre piece of land in Mendocino County in the early '80s. He had built a house and homestead on forested land.

After I shot photographs in the morning, Jack said he had a neighbor who wanted to meet me, who had used our book Shelter in building his place, so we drove through hills, then down a winding hillside road into a river-bottom valley. At the end of the road was one of the prettiest little buildings I'd ever seen. Everything about it was right, the curves, the white plastered walls with shingled roof, the copper and crystal mast. We walked up to the open doors of the shop, and a 60-year-old guy, with a handmade hat and a twinkle in his eye came out, a tattered copy of Shelter in his hand. "Look," he said beckoning me to squat down with him in the doorway to his shop. He opened the book to the painting of a Mandan earth lodge, and had me look up at the framing of his shop…identical!

The quality of Louie's construction was astounding. Everything was beautifully designed, and immaculately carried out. It was all tuned in, thought out, crafted finely. This wasn't Fine Homebuilding. This wasn't fussy craftsmanship for millionaires. It was a rare combination of owner-builder-designer-master craftsman, all to a human and livable scale. There was no excess, no fat. This guy made everything: house and shop, chairs and stools, garden cart, cabinets, wood-fired water heaters, hydroelectric system, photovoltaic electricity; he was not only a master carpenter but an arc welder and could figure out how to construct just about anything. He was in the midst of building a beautiful wind-powered fishing boat with his buddy Pete.

Well, that was his shop. And his house? On the other side of the river, and also inspired by a drawing in Shelter, was a Japanese-style pole house. To get to it in the winter, you had to ride a bosun's chair across the river on a 500-foot cable (see p. 8).

It was seeing Louie's shop that inspired this book. If Shelter could inspire buildings like these, we had better do another book! On these eight pages are some of Louie's creations.