Architectural Recycling Then and Now

By Dan Gregory

Part of a 747 fuselage becomes a row of windows in the kitchen of this house by architect David Hertz (photo by Sara Jane Boyers).

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 (photo 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 cowling
makes a great reflecting pool (
photo by Sara Jane Boyers). Part of the exterior fuselage forms the kitchen backsplash as shown in Sara Jane Boyer's photo at the top of this post, 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  re-purposing 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 (photo 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 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.

To browse a collection of eco-friendly plans click here.

Originally Published in Eye On Design


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