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Lifestyle

July 26, 2013

Salem artist makes books about buildings

Giles Laroche loves “buildings and places and the way towns are laid out.”

That’s easy to see in his new children’s book, “If You Lived Here: Houses of The World,” in which he depicts homes as different as a dog-trot log house, a Swiss chalet and an adobe pueblo of the American Southwest.

“The point was to get kids to understand that kids in other parts of the world live in other types of architecture, live a different lifestyle than we do,” said Laroche, who lives in Salem.

His illustrations are created with different types of paper; he draws an image, then cuts, paints and layers sections on the page.

“Every log of the dog-trot log houses is drawn, cut and painted,” he said. “It’s almost like building the structures.”

(Dog-trot houses were created by early settlers, he explained. They were built in two sections, with an open space where dogs could sleep.)

Laroche’s illustrations have been exhibited in museums, including the Wenham Museum, and his publishers take photos of them for his books, which number four and are intended primarily for children.

He nourished his love of buildings by working at an architecture firm in Harvard Square after graduating from art school.

“I remained there for seven years, looking at models,” he said. “Sometimes, I worked in the firm’s library organizing the books — they were marvelous books.”

In addition to his research, Laroche travels the world to make direct sketches of his subjects. He is working now on a book about towers.

“Everything from the Tower of Babel to the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, and all the wonderful towers in between,” he said. “Also utilitarian towers like fire towers or watch towers.”

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