Cocoon Dwelling, Aleksandra Kasuba, Whiz Bang City East, Woodstock, NY, 1972.

In the funky, self-build revolution, making shelter was seen as an act of personal transformation and revelation. "A wise man never says what he's gonna' do. He just does it," said Coyote, a free-land visionary who advised his friends to stop worrying about mundane technicalities like septic systems and building codes. "All you have to do is start," said a homesteader named Feather, who moved into the forest of northern California determined to live on the land as lightly as her adopted name suggested.

Hundreds of self-taught architects pursued the dream of a free-form, asymmetrical kind of shelter that featured curving walls, undulating roofs, and womblike interiors--some called it "biotecture"--to better harmonize with the natural rhythms. An itinerant hippie named Teddy envisioned a cocoon-shaped dwelling hanging fifty feet up a redwood tree. It would be made from rubberized macramé woven like the nest of a weaverbird. When this proved impossible to achieve, Teddy settled for a house in the shape of a giant mushroom, a fitting abode for someone whose spiritual awakening came on magic mushrooms. The self-build credo was spread by word of mouth, by contact high, by a kind of telepathic interconnection that was also known as grokking. It was just there, somehow, in the air, the back-to-nature vibe, the need to make shelter, the need to uncomplicate one's life. "Building is like yoga," said long-hair builder Douglas. "You can't do it any other way than one nail at a time. It's a constant surrender. 'Look at that hammer hit that nail!' As within, so without."

Chapter 1 - Enchanted Loom
Chapter 2 - Infinity Machines
Chapter 3 - Crash Pads
Chapter 4 - Soft City
Chapter 5 - Unsettlers
Chapter 6 - Magic Circles
Chapter 7 - Frontier Mystics

© 2009 Alastair Gordon • OverviewExcerptsBlogMultimediaBiographyLinksHomeMySpace