Utne Blogs > Environment

Dream Homes from Driftwood

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: Environment, building, green building, sustainable design,

Tree loft

I’ve been coveting a lot of my neighbors’ houses while browsing Builders of the Pacific Coast (Shelter Publications) by Lloyd Kahn, a photo-splashed book full of amazing, rustic, wood-built dwellings and shelters on islands and in other remote seaside locations in the Pacific Northwest.

The area’s huge trees and ubiquitous driftwood lend themselves to curvaceous, organic design, and these builders take full advantage of these qualities in structures that range from a Hobbit-like gazebo to a spherical treehouse to grand but still-earthy luxury homes and spas. Many of the homes are reachable only by boat and perched in impossibly beautiful settings.

There’s a strong countercultural thread to these builders, many of whom were inspired by Kahn’s 1973 book Shelter, a bible of sorts for that decade’s back-to-the-land movement. And Kahn’s laid-back writing style is full of metaphysical allusions and meandering asides about his travels, giving it a whiff of patchouli and B.C. bud. But looking at these homes, it’s hard to doubt that there’s “a vortex of creative carpentry energy in this part of the world,” as the book states. Moss roofs, bentwood railings, hand-carved details, natural motifs, and Native influences complement the area’s mossy, foggy splendor and speak to its natural and human history.

See Kahn’s recent story about his book in our sister publication, Mother Earth News, complete with a slideshow.

Sources: Shelter Publications, Mother Earth News

Image by Lloyd Kahn, courtesy of Lloyd Kahn.