Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Barefoot Architect

My copy of this book arrived here yesterday, as with all my post it arrived from the village on a donkey ridden (Post haste!) by Nicos.  There is an erratic delivery service to the village but no road on which the post delivery vehicle can drive from there.  Why, I am now wondering has it taken me two years to learn of the existence of this wonderful tome?  Seven hundred paperback pages of information about how to had build just about everything from just about anything.  Since the oil crisis of the seventies ignited a spark within me of interest in simple building methods I have been an avid collector and reader of any book concerning the architecture and building of shelters of every kind.  The author, perhaps 'maker' would be more appropriate here, of this book, Netherlands born Johan van Lengen is, according to the blurb on the book's flaps, as interesting as his book.  Giving up an architectural career in San Francisco he went first to Mexico and later to Brazil where he helped the disadvantaged of those countries to improve the standards of their housing.  Barefoot Architect, first published in Spanish in 1982, was the result of van Lengen's work in those countries.  It was first translated into english in 1982.


Sean Jeating said...

Ha, lovely! Your postman Nicos and his donkey remind me of postman Mario and his bicycle in Antonio Skármeta's novel Burning Patience. Quite sure you'd enjoy reading it.
By scrolling down after having clicked the link there is quite a good brief review from Publishers Weekly.
As for The Barefoot Architect. Thanks for mentioning the book and thus recommending it. Sounds fascinating.

John Foster said...

Thank you for that Sean. As soon as I read mention of 'Burning Patience' I looked up the review you mentioned and realised that I have in fact read this book and I did, despite its heart wrenching poignancy of contrasts, very much enjoy it, but I did not recognise the title. I have it here in an Italian translation as 'Ill Postino'.
I am not sure that I can recommend 'The Barefoot Architect' as good reading to anyone other than an armchair builder and enricher of builders merchants (my ignorance and paucity of practical ability have been expensive) such as myself!