Duck Duck Book

12 – the lemonade stand
02.14.2005, 12:02 am
Filed under: technology

The lemonade stand : exploring the unfamiliar by building large-scale models / Maurice Mitchell.
Powys, Wales : The Centre for Alternative Technology, c1998.
[MCL call number: 690.837 M682L 1998; one copy, no holds]

For the casual reader (that is, the reader who leafs through and looks at the pictures instead of actually reading), this book seems to be inaccurately titled. Much of the content discusses different building materials and methods, sorted in a very logical way into the “wet” (masonry et al.) and “dry” (carpentry) trades. The specific examples shown are “models” (though large enough to be perfectly useful buildings) that were built as part of a course given by the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. Want to know about traditional or vernacular solutions for roofing with earth? Or what you might do to make a masonry arch in a part of the world where there is no wood to be had for form-making? This book will give you an introduction, and show you photographs and a few plans and drawings that help explain different concepts.

The Lemonade Stand seems long on exposition and a bit short on the truly practical, but nonetheless it is a useful guide to the many many different building materials that are cheap and easily available in different parts of the world, and to how you might get started in thinking about where and how to use them. The text is followed by an annotated bibliography, a glossary, and an index.

Here’s a tangent that you may or may not find interesting: The Lemonade Stand reminds me quite a lot of a wonderful guide to practical, cheap building that my mother has — Manual del arquitecto descalzo : cómo construir casas y otros edificios, by Johan van Lengen. (México : Editorial Concepto, 1982, 1980). But Manual del arquitecto descalzo has two qualities that make it less practical for me: one is that it is written for the tropical regions of the Americas and doesn’t help much if you’re daydreaming about building something in Oregon, and the second is that it is written in Spanish and has not been translated (though the book really is intended for regular people, has nice glossary, and is richly illustrated, so you don’t need very fluent Spanish to be able to understand it).


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Shelter Publications, Inc. (Box 279, Bolinas, CA 94924) will publish the English version of THE BAREFOOT ARCHITECT in January 2007, distributed by Publishers Group West (800 788-3123).

Comment by Lew

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