Shelter on Wheels
If there's not a nomadic revolution going on today, there's certainly a nomadic movement. In the last few years, either for reasons of practicality (high costs of rent or mortgages), change in lifestyle, or the search for adventure, people are customizing all sorts of vehicles for travel.
If you search for "van" on Instagram, you find scores of accounts such as #projectvanlife, with 1.2 million followers; #vanlifecamper; 472,000 followers, or #fosterhunting, 930,000 followers.
This book focuses on DIY vehicles, with most of the 80 or so shown here fitted out for the road by their owners, similar to the way that the homes in all of Shelter's building books were built by hand, by the owners. There are vans, sedans, trucks, buses, and trailers with a wide array of designs and styles. A number of the units are 4-wheel drive for off-road travel.
The book is not only fun to browse through, but is full of practical information (such as stoves, heaters, battery charging, solar power, refrigerators, and kitchens designed for the road) -- for anyone wanting to create their own movable home. These owner builders describe their homes, provide photos and share their secrets. There are dozens of floor plans, all sorts of sleeping arrangements, and some unique "stealth vehicles" -- designed to be under the radar, so that passers-by have no idea that someone is sleeping in a parked vehicle.
There is a European minivan outfitted by a young German woman who just graduated from architectural school and took a sabbatical to go surfing. There are a number of camper truck shells, all completely different. There's a converted school bus that is used in both cold weather for skiing, and in warm climates (such as Baja California) for surfing. A $200,000 Land Rover and a $300 pickup truck camper shell. There's a converted horse trailer furnished with Victorian antiques that is used at Burning Man. A tiny Geo Metro (3-cylinder sedan) that is ingeniously designed for sleeping, cooking, and eating in the stealth mode.
This is the the latest addition to The Shelter Library of Building Books, which started with Shelter in 1973 and includes Home Work, Builders of the Pacific Coast, Tiny Homes, and more.
This book couldn't be more timely.
"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me..."
-Jack Kerouac, On the Road
About this Author
Lloyd Kahn started covering builders and buildings when he was the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog in 1968. In 1973, he produced the by-now legendary book Shelter, documenting building methods around the world, and covering the '60s countercultural movement in building. Since then he has published 12 books on building, including Tiny Homes, Home Work, Tiny Homes on the Move, Small Homes, and The Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and Gardening . He and his wife, Lesley, reside in Bolinas, California,
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