Modern living, with plywood!

In the LJ Vintage Ads group, Write_light has contributed this beautiful plan for a "shorehill" plywood house. It's an excerpt from Second Homes for Leisure Living (1960), a 36-page public domain brochure from the Douglas Fir Plywood Association with plans for 18 complete homes, a rather glorious bit of propaganda for super-modernist plywood living.

Second Homes for Leisure Living, Douglas Fir Plywood Association



  1. Aahh, architectural modernism. It’s not about comfort (look at those chairs) or beauty, it’s about hating everything that came before and tossing it out in favor of box-like “machines for living.”
    That, and the interstate highway system made America what it is today.

    1. Somehow, it all comes down to hating on Le Corbusier, doesn’t it? Even though he had nothing to do with this. I can’t wait till he’s rehabilitated and everyone pretends they never cold denied him three times like Peter did Jesus.

  2. This design is not a silly as it looks. It owes a lot to Eichler, whose homes are now amongst the most desired in Palo Alto, CA.

    Eichler’ s aim was to radically reduce the cost architecturally-pleasing housing while integrating the indoors and outdoors. His designs succeeded marvelously in that regard — high design could be executed at prices new suburbanites could afford.

    However, plywood walls extended this indoor/outdoor integration to the thermal, so Eichler designs are only appropriate for moderate climes.

    I can’t imagine one of these things in a New England winter or a Texas summer.

    1. When properly insulated anything built with plywood would be OK in New England. There are some plywoods that are great to work with and look really good when used properly. The problem is that most plywood is actually really expensive compared to OSB and other engineered woods.

  3. Nowadays, it’s better living through oriented strand board (OSB).

    Plywood seems now to be more or less a something of a premium product. I like the design … notsomuch the color scheme.

  4. The Shorehill home looks a lot like the house my parents built in 1969 and that I grew up in.

    In Alaska, T-111 is still incredibly common as an all-in-one sheathing and siding product.

  5. A surprising number of these require you to go outside to go to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee in the morning. Only a short step removed froom camping.

  6. Wait, get this bit: “With everyone enjoying longer vacations…more free time…better highways making remote retreat areas more accessible…plus the need for family recreation…”

    1960, I hate you. I hate your optimism and prosperity. OK, I envy it. But seriously, ouch. We might as well be living in the Blade Runner world, when you compare 1960 to 2011.

    As Gov’t Mule says, “Where’s my mule, where’s my 40 acres?”

  7. Cool. I have the Teahouse plans. I thought they would be on the hokey side, but they’re actually pretty good as far as the design goes.

  8. Ah, I’ve always wanted to live in a home that felt like the inside of a packing crate.

  9. PM to Cory from fanboy ycleptShawn. You know what’s missing from craphound? A button to discourse with you. Also, thanks for being awesome. Funny how you are on the bleeding edge, yet contact still un-attainable. Yes, I could meet you. But I’m here in LA and am savvy. Sorry in advance for drunk posting. It’s been a long day. Shawn.

  10. What a swingin’ pad!

    “smart-looking built-in sofa beds that will sleep four in real comfort”

  11. @robertbigelow…

    Can you imagine trying to source Douglas fir ply now? In the uk it would cost a small fortune even if you could find it…

  12. I wonder what these sorts of “one step up from camping” houses says about how our aspirations for leisure have changed. Certainly many modern motor homes have more comforts than these buildings do. Without insulation or heating beyond a fireplace, these are NOT intended for winter occupation. Do they drain all the pipes when you leave so they won’t freeze? Where do you put the leach field for your toilet when your house is cantaleverd over the lake? Because I don’t want to be cavorting in water that people are “straight piping” into.

    1. Where do you put the leach field for your toilet when your house is cantilevered over the lake?

      We had that! But there were only about twenty summer homes around a square mile of lake, and they were only occupied on weekends or a couple of weeks in the summer. So nobody worried too much about it.

    2. i would wager that you have at one time or another at any public water area, just minus the baby ruth’s.

      there is a video where the drug expert went to the amazon to partake of the neurotoxin excreted from some sort of amazonian frog. anyways, the people he encountered that were living on the river had the toilet (a holed seat) directly over the river as the entire homes were built over the water. so they shat on the side and drank, cleaned and swam in the front. maybe they built it with the river’s current in mind, i don’t know, all i know is you would not want to live on the amazon river as the water is infested with catfish spawn that will swim up your pee stream if you pee while submerged in the water. maybe you would want to live there as you would at least know that no one swimming near you is peeing in the water, that is other than the side of the house which is hopefully facing downstream.

  13. While I reserve the right to make fun of this or any part of history before I showed up on the scene, plywood is kind of badass as a building material. Depending on what use you want to put it to, you can have most of the advantages of metal, wood, or concrete bundled up into a cheap slab you can drive nails into. And in 1960, the advantages were all the more pronounced.

    You know why they stopped making planes out of (ply)wood and started making them out of metal? The short answer is, no especially good reason. For small- to medium-sized propeller planes, you could make a strong case that they switched over well before it was optimal to do so, but metal had the advantage of seeming more industrial and futuristic, which hastened its adoption.

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