Personal tools
log in | join | help

Architectural Recycling, Then and Now

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Apr 14, 2012 02:31 PM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)
by Dan Gregory last modified Apr 13, 2012

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2012: examples of historical and contemporary recycling, from obelisks to airplanes, plus ready-made plans as another form of recycling. Continue reading →



Flights of the Phoenix

Earth Day is April 22, so let’s talk recycling. It’s not a new idea: remember the Romans! In 10 B. C. Emperor Augustus removed the obelisk from the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis in Egypt and placed it in the Circus Maximus; then in 1589 Pope Sixtus V had it erected in the Piazza del Popolo topped with a cross. More recent power players have adapted this collect-and-conquer approach to a residential scale and architecturally re-purposed everything from antique ceilings to airplanes and automobiles. Take this new residence by architect

David Hertz, which is a 2012 Record House (drawing in an earlier post; photos courtesy David Hertz). It shows how to recycle a Boeing 747. Hertz turned the

wings into roofs on two levels (in this house wings are really wings). And by the way, a jet engine engine cowling makes a great reflecting pool. Part of the exterior fuselage forms the kitchen backsplash, conveying the delightful

impression that a plane has just landed beside the sink — or maybe this is simply another form of Mileage Plus. One little caveat about  repurposing a 747 — if it’s visible from the air you need to notify the FAA so they don’t think it’s a crash site.

Leger Wanaselja Architects is known for their eco-friendly approach to design, 

most recently for their infill house with roofs “sawed out of grey cars left for parts in local junk yards,” and glass awnings “fabricated from junked Dodge

Caravan side windows.”  They used salvaged automobile roofs for upper walls, and poplar bark (waste product from the furniture industry of North Carolina)

for the lower walls. Inside, all the finish wood for cabinetry and trim is salvage, lending the main living and dining areas a warmly inviting glow (photos courtesy Leger Wanaselja).

Recycling isn’t just about one-off custom design — it’s built into many

contemporary materials, including solid surface counters like Vetrazzo, which is recycled glass in a base of concrete and comes in a wide variety of colors,

or wall tiles made from recycled glass like this example from Bedrock Industries, also produced in a broad spectrum of styles and hues.

Which Reminds Me

Ready-made plans are all about recycling, too! Sea Ranch Cottage Plan 447-2 

by William Turnbull is a good example — use it as the base with which to shape

a weekend getaway. Just adapt it to your site, add whatever upgrades are

required, and you’re done…and no need to contact the FAA.



welcome to our open house

"I'm looking for housing that is affordable, and modern. I know there must be innovative, well-designed housing out there. I just can't seem to find it!" —Tracey R., from the Dwell discussion board


Website migration, maintenance and customization provided by Grafware.