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GSBN:"Natural Building: A Guide..." by Tom Woolley

I'm pleased that Tom Woolley is here. A copy of his book managed to
make its way to Vermont, and I can verify that it does indeed have
interesting pictures. Lots of them. I admire the European natural
builders a great deal; just about anything that escapes the narrow
contemporary North American suburban concepts and expectations of
house and home gets my juices flowing. Most of the places shown in
this book do that for me.

(There are, of course, many drop-dead gorgeous, envelope-pushing
projects in the States, too. I suppose my perception of closer-by
things that are actually amazing dulls over time through my own
failing. I need to remind myself not to forget that there are many
layers and types of beauty, and to not lose sight of the vitally
important things accomplished through baby steps, not to mention
through well-intended missteps. And then there's the different sort
of power and vitality unearthed by those who pursue scientific
understanding and knowledge, which threads through all of it, and
which I also adore.)

I've long admired and appreciated Tom's work, and was happy to see
"Natural Building: A Guide to Materials and Techniques" come along.
It's an introduction to several materials and methods, with a focus
on the UK and Ireland. In addition to strawbale, it covers earth,
timber, lime & masonry, hemp, green roofs, paints & finishes. There's
a nice chapter on natural insulation materials; a discussion on
planning, regulations, and consultants; and an overview of The
Principles of Green Building appropriately placed at the very end.

Though I've gone through the pictures more than once, I haven't read
it entirely yet. Those parts I have were prosaic (in a good way),
well-grounded and -rounded. It presents itself thoroughly and evenly,
and while it should all be perfectly understandable for laypeople, it
strikes me as a much better offering than most for design and trade
professionals seeking an overview. That's much to its credit.

There are a couple places in the SB chapter where I might be inclined
to quibble over points... but show me a book where that's not the
case. Except for anything by Bruce. I'm afraid of Bruce.

Mark Piepkorn

The greatest discovery of my generation is that
human beings can alter their lives by altering their
attitudes of mind.
  - William James