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The Barefoot Architect [Paperback]

Johan van Lengen

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Book Description

Oct. 28 2007
THE BAREFOOT ARCHITECT is a book dedicated to helping economically-challenged tropical builders learn how to provide shelter, clean water, electrical energy, and sanitation by using indiginous, low-cost, sustainable building materials.
A former UN worker and prominent architect, Johan van Lengen has seen firsthand the desperate need for a "greener" approach to housing in impoverished tropical climates. This comprehensive book clearly explains every aspect of this endeavor, including design (siting, orientation, climate consideration), materials (sisal, cactus, bamboo, earth), and implementation. The author emphasizes throughout the book what is inexpensive and sustainable. Included are sections discussing urban planning, small-scale energy production, cleaning and storing drinking water, and dealing with septic waste, and all information is applied to three distinct tropical regions: humid areas, temporate areas, and desert climates. Hundreds of explanatory drawings by van Lengen allow even novice builders to get started.

Frequently Bought Together

The Barefoot Architect + Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter + Shelter
Price For All Three: CDN$ 60.51

  • Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter CDN$ 23.16
  • Shelter CDN$ 20.38

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Product Description

About the Author

The founder of Bio-Architecture and Intuitive Technology (TIBA), Johan van Lengen has worked since the 1970s for better housing for the disadvantaged. He teaches at the architecture school PUC in Rio de Janeiro.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Barefoot Architect Jan. 21 2008
By Muleman - Published on Amazon.com
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. Perhaps in a post-peak oil world, TBA will become a must-have resource for those of us who have to live more simply and take advantage of the building materials close at hand. Most discussions in TBA readily stimulate one to think of practical uses for the natural resources that surround us all.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Barefoot Architect Jan. 13 2008
By William Steen - Published on Amazon.com
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.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Helpful Nov. 7 2007
By Jack Fulton - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essencial principles of architecture and selfbuilding Nov. 4 2009
By Ehret - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barefoot Architect June 3 2010
By Lindsey Round-Turner - Published on Amazon.com
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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