Ken Isaacs. How to build your own living structures

KEN ISAACS, How To Build Your Own Living Structures, 1974,
Harmony Books, New York, 137 pages, offset, spiral bound

How To Build Your Own Living Structures is an out-of-print manual of utopian architecture from 1974 created by American architectural experimenter KEN ISAACS.

In the late 1940s KEN ISAACS (design student in Chicago) needed housing for himself and his wife as well as enough space to carry out his work but just barely able to afford a tiny two-room city apartment. He proposed a modular system, based on inch measures, that he offered to the crowds through several design manuals that explained step by step how his designs could be reproduced.

How To Build Your Own Living Structures explains on how to build furniture, small houses and even vehicles using basic tools and materials:

This book is a beautiful guide about how to make a variety of flexible experimental indoor interiors, storage units, and a microhouse. The microhouse is a flexible creation of architect, Ken Isaacs. The modular design is based on stacked tetrahedrons, which can be moved in and around each other providing shelter and dividing living space in a creative way. The book gives you step-by-step instructions with plans for many different versions of Isaac’s original designs interspersed with ideas about simplicity, and getting rid of our personal possessions. The book is type written and spiral round in a nice Do-It-Yourself aesthetic, and Isaacs writes in a genial manner as if he were sitting across the table from you. He muses on the philosophical meanings of surplus and uses the designs as a means of addressing life as whole; a simple place to raise a family and house extended family that has a low impact on the surrounding natural environment – by the The Library of Radiant Optimism for Let’s Re-Make the World

KEN ISAACS spent decades spreading the word about Living Structures and the light living philosophy they embodied through seminars, articles, and courses conducted in design schools around the US.

A few years ago, Dwell Magazine has captured ISAACS‘s humor and dynamism in a video (watch here). More recently, the show Digital Justice, Ken Isaacs,
and books on climbing and housing
at New Jerseyy (Basel) features a reconstruction, or re-interpretation of one of KEN ISAACS living cubes (on view until August 13, 2011).

And good news: the pdf version is available here