The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building

    The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building

    Johan van Lengen  |  2008
    Published by Shelter Publications


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    While working in Mexico in 1982, Johan van Lengen wrote and illustrated Manual Del Arquitecto Descalzo, a comprehensive guide to building simple homes highlighting modern and traditional techniques. The Mexican government was so impressed that it bought 40,000 copies and placed one in every library in the country. Now available in English for the first time, The Barefoot Architect describes in simple language the process of building housing and providing a healthful environment.

    “The most important outcome of a design is that the occupants enjoy being in their spaces.”

    The Barefoot Architect

    Clear and comprehensive, The Barefoot Architect explains every aspect of green architecture, including design (siting, orientation, climate consideration), materials (sisal, cactus, bamboo, earth), and implementation (foundations, walls, partitions, floors, doors, and windows). Special attention is paid to ecotechniques, with an emphasis on inexpensive and sustainable solutions for three distinct regions: humid, temperate, and desert climates.

    The book discusses small-scale energy production through the use of water and windmills, solar heating, and wood stoves and ovens. A final section shows how to obtain and store clean drinking water, and how to deal with septic waste safely. Hundreds of explanatory drawings by author Johan van Lengen allow even novice builders to get started.

    Praise for The Barefoot Architect

    “[The Barefoot Architect] is really about simplicity and the beauty of indigenous building, reinforcing the benefits of basic design and simple materials. It is very much an instructive work, with over 1,200 straightforward line drawings and uncomplicated explanations meant for people who simply want to get a job done and a cozy roof over their heads.

    Don’t look for stunning photography—there is none. What is inside, however, includes the things that, as an elementary builder, you’ll need to know about climate, site design, natural building techniques, foundation-to-roof construction, solar and biomass heating and ventilation, water purification and management, and composting sanitary systems. The methods addressed are a combination of tradition and modern techniques.”’
    BackHome Magazine

    “Although geared towards the southern latitudes (with passive solar gain coming from the North, for example), the book contains a wealth of information about natural materials, passive design strategies, and design for several different climates.”

    “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.”
    Bill Steen, author of The Straw Bale House