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The Barefoot Architect. A Handbook for Green Building | Johan van Lengen | 9780936070421

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The Barefoot Architect

A Handbook for Green Building

Auteur:Johan van Lengen

Uitgever:Shelter

ISBN: 978-0-93607-042-1

  • Paperback
  • Engels
  • 720 pagina's
  • 5 okt. 2007

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.

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.

Johan van Langen about his book:


This manual is for those of you who dream of building a home. I will describe the relationship between a house and its environment: the limitations, and the possibilities. I hope that consulting this book will help you find solutions in realizing your dream.


The information presented in this book is mainly graphic. I believe that simple perspective drawing such as these convey information better than page after page of words. The Barefoot Architect is meant not only for individual owner-builders, but for governmental "sweat equity" programs that require the participation of owner/builders in the community.

I do not necessarily mean to persuade you to build your home in a vernacular manner. The world has changed much; often there are not suitable materials or the skills necessary for vernacular building. In many cases, adhering to resolutely to traditional building methods will prove frustrating. The manual is meant to answer the realistic challenges in present-day construction, and to suggest practical solutions by combining traditional and modern techniques. At the same time, I do not mean to imply that these proposed alternative methods will automatically produce a miraculous shelter; rather that a combination of these techniques will guide you in providing a harmonious living environment.

The phrase "barefoot architect" was inspired by the first architects, living in the distant past, who mixed adobe by treading mud with their bare feet. Barefoot architects produced the most incredible buildings of antiquity, such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The people who most inspired me to gather and share this building knowledge were those in rural areas and "low-rent" neighborhoods in big cities. Their faith in the possibility of improving their living conditions, in spite of the difficulties of their daily lives, became the inspiration for this book.

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