What’s Your Dewey? 720 ish – Building up to it!

On days like this, when the temperature barely hovers above 6 and the rain and hail take turns to pelt the roof, I am thankful for the shelter I have. None-the-less, I start getting a little stir crazy for the outdoors. It’s then I browse the larger coffee-table sized books that deal with things ‘shelter’ and in particular, structures that let the outside, in.

masters of lightMasters of Light: Designing the Luminous House by Peter Hyatt is full of inventive ways to bring the outside in. The book is full of wonderful illustrations of houses from around the world designed by architects such as Assadi, Blackwell, Bossley, Ehrlich, McLaughlin and Moore. Great for ideas but perhaps a bit beyond the average budget.

Grand-Designs-handbookWith the success of the Grand Designs television series, there is an increase in the number of people prepared to take the plunge and build their dream homes.   Grand Designs Australia Handbook by Peter Maddison is one of the first books to document some of the outstanding attempts Australians have made to create their own dream home. While this earlier edition looks a bit outdated, there are still some valuable lessons to be learned by modern enthusiasts.

page_1_thumb_largeThose who prefer to stick with the series presenter Kevin McCloud, The best of Grand Designs : celebrating innovative houses from architecture’s iconic TV series, magazine and awards programme is also worth looking at.

Weather extremes always make me think of ways I can make my house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Warm House Cool House: Inspirational designs for low-energy housing by Nick Hollo looks at practical ways to design the right sort of housing for the Australian environment.
warm cool houseThe book also includes ideas for improving existing houses, plans, diagrams and some innovative ideas to develop.

Cabins: A guide to building your own nature retreat by David & Jeanie Stiles provides step-by-step instructions (with accompanying diagrams) on building 8 different cabin designs from around the world.

Reading through Cabins made me think of the many cubby houses I built as a child (the principles seem the same). I began to look for books on designing and building cubby houses in the 720s and found one title.


Eco-cubby is aimed at children and documents the Eco-cubby project undertaken by the children, staff and families from the University of Melbourne’s Early Learning Centre. It is basically a photo-journal and provides little ‘how-to’ information. I decided to take my browsing to the online catalogue and discovered that if you want to know how to build a cubby, you’re unlikely to find books in the 720’s, but that’s for another ‘What’s your dewey?’

Nola Cavallaro


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