Malcolm Wells (March 11, 1926 – November 27, 2009)[1] is sometimes regarded as "the father of modern earth-sheltered architecture."[2] Wells lived on Cape Cod, and practiced what he preached by living in a modern earth-sheltered building of his own design.[3] Wells was also a writer, illustrator, draftsman, lecturer, cartoonist, columnist, and solar consultant.[4] Malcolm Wells retired from the active practice of architecture in June 2004,[5] although he continued his advocacy for underground living to the end of his life.[6] There is an active Yahoo Group in which his works are discussed.[7]

His work in architecture and design began in 1953. After 10 years "spent spreading corporate asphalt on America in the name of architecture," he began to feel that the Earth's surface was "made for living plants, not industrial plants;" and took up the challenge of underground architecture.[8][9] This was reflected in his semi-underground office at Cuthbert Blvd and Park Blvd in Cherry Hill, NJ, adjacent to the Cooper River. His interests were in energy efficiency,[10] aesthetics, land preservation and restoration "A Regeneration-based Checklist for Design and Construction", and durability of materials, among other aspects. His books have sold over 120,000 copies[11] to similarly minded designers and to laymen alike.

Wells died Friday, November 27, 2009, with his wife Karen North Wells and son John Wells at his side.


  • How to buy solar heating ... without getting burnt! (1978)[1]
  • Underground Designs (1981)[2] $7 from author
  • Classic Architectural Birdhouses and Feeders (1988)[3]
  • Architects Sketchbook of Underground Buildings: Drawings and Photographs (1990)[4]
  • How to Build an Underground House (1991)[5] $12 direct from the author
  • Infra Structures (1994)[6]
  • Passive Solar Energy: The Homeowner's Guide to Natural Heating and Cooling (with Bruce Anderson) (1996)[7]
  • Sandtiquity (with Kappy Wells, Connie Simo) (1999) [8] $16.95 from author
  • Designing Your Natural House (with Charles G. Woods) (1999)[9]
  • Recovering America: A More Gentle Way to Build (2001)[10]
  • A Tiny Underground House [11] $10
  • Bipad (1995) [12] $10
  • Underground Plans Book (1980) [13] $14


  1. Weber, Bruce (December 5, 2009). "Malcolm Wells, Champion of 'Gentle Architecture', Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2009. 
  2. Higginson, C.: Mother Earth News; Oct/Nov2006, Issue 218, p119-121
  3. "About the Underground Art Gallery. Karen North Wells, Cape Cod Fine Artist". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  4. "About Malcolm Wells". 2002-03-22. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  5. "Contact Malcolm Wells or Wendy Mathias". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  6. "Celebrate May 14th: Underground American Day". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  7. "malcolmwells : Earth Sheltered Buildings & Architecture". 2004-05-07. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  8. "Mac's biography, p.1". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  9. "Mac's biography p. 2". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  10. "Construction Techniques for Passive Solar Homes". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  11. "About Malcolm Wells". 2002-03-22. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 

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