The granddaddy of all books about hand-built homes is the legendary Architecture Without Architects. Forty years in print, it continues to inspire architects, despite its title. Savor it slowly as a black and white poem on what a house might be if you had two thousand years to refine it. These shelters have visible souls. They honor your hands and mind. I consider this small book to hold essential wisdom that no high-schooler should graduate without encountering.
One of the most radical solutions in the field of shelter is represented by the underground towns and villages in the Chinese loess belt. Loess is silt, transported and deposited by the wind. Because of its great softness and high porosity (45 percent), it can be easily carved. In places, roads have been cut as much as 40 deep into the original level by the action of wheels. In the provinces of Honnan, Shansi, Shensi, and Kansu about ten million people live in dwellings hollowed out from loess.