Builders of the Pacific Coast

Welcome to our post-Halloween sugar blues daze. With hundred of new books crossing my desk, and my eyes, each month, I'm jazzed to point you to this new one: Builders of the Pacific Coast, by Lloyd Kahn, $31.00, 250 pages, 9x12, with loads of colour photos. I've actually seen some of these builders and buildings along our coast, and the book is an amazing tribute to them, and to our beautifully human shelter-crafting instincts as well.

This gorgeous book by Lloyd Kahn (legendary “shelter” editor of the Whole Earth Catalog) features photos and interviews with brilliant designer-builders from San Francisco to the coastal islands of B.C. (including Cortes, Denman & Hornby islands). Many of the builders shown here got started in the counter-cultural era of the ’60s and ’70s and their lovely work has never been shown in books or magazine articles before.

From unique homesteads in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, to communities of self-built shelters on small islands in the Strait of Georgia, to charming beachfront houses on the “Wild Coast” of Vancouver Island, these structures and their creators are concepts from the ’60s that worked.

As in his previous books Shelter and Home Work, Kahn features three builders: Lloyd House, master craftsman and designer who has created a series of unique homes on a small island; Bruce Atkey, creator of a number of houses and lodges built of hand-split cedar on the Wild Coast, and Sun Ray Kelley, barefoot builder tuned in to nature, who has designed and built wildly imaginative structures in Washington and California. In addition, there are sculptural buildings of driftwood, homes that are beautiful as well as practical, live-aboard boats, and examples of awesome architectural design.

This journey into the creative processes of owner-built homes contains over 1000 photos featuring builders on Vancouver Island, surrounding islands, and the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver. Over a two-year period, Kahn made four trips to British Columbia shooting photos and interviewing builders. He discovered a wealth of creative design and imaginative architecture: unique buildings on Denman Island, Hornby Island, and Cortes Island; two amphitheaters built out of driftwood logs on the Sunshine Coast; cabins in the woods, homesteads on the beaches, and buildings in tune with their natural surroundings.

Exploring innovative techniques, use of sustainable materials, and essential dedication to the natural elements surrounding their designs, Builders of the Pacific Coast offers stunning colour and black-and-white photographs, as well as detailed black-and-white drawings of the homes. This collection of unique and progressive designs creates a template for a future filled with forward-thinking, organic architecture.


Kolin Lymworth has been at the helm of Banyen Books for 38 years.
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