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"A" was the architectural letterform of leisure building in postwar America. Eager to stake out mountain and lakeside retreats, an entire generation of high-end homebuilders and weekend handymen found the A-frame an easy and affordable home to construct; its steeply sloping triangular roof distinctive and easy to maintain )almost no exterior walls to paint!). Fueled by A-frame plans and kits, the style became something of a national craze, with tens of thousands of houses built.
Indeed, the A-frame was an icon for recreation, and acceptable form of modernism (although its origins go back thousands of years), and a convenient tool for marketing a wide range of products, including gas-powered toilets, motorcycles, and canned vegetables; Fisher-Price even made one for children. So popular on the domestic front, the A-frame was eventually adapted to other building types, from roadside restaurants to churches.
In a fascinating look at this architectural phenomenon, Chad Randl tells the story of the "triangle" house from prehistoric Japan to its lifestyle-changing heyday in the 1960s. Part architectural history and part cultural exploration, A-Frame documents every aspect of A-frame living using cartoons, ads, high-style and do-it-yourself examples, family snapshots, and even an appendix with a complete set of blueprints in case you want to build your own!
About the Author
Chad Randl is an architectural historian working at the National Park Service. He resides in Takoma Park, Maryland.