Using waste to create houses that are both fascinating and functional
More than a buzzword, "green" is a lifestyle. It's the conscious decision to reject convention and adopt an eco-friendly attitude. For some, this attitude reflects in the infrastructure of their homes, impressive modern builds that use recycled materials to fantastic effect — both in construction and aesthetic.
Sustainable building practices have led to innovative designs that account for waste and emissions. Visionary architects have met the challenge of green construction with flair and ingenuity, creating unique works of art that shirk the status quo. The results of their creativity are often beautiful.
In this article, we'll detail seven impressive homes built with recycled materials, proof that restrictions can help the imagination, not hinder it.
1. The Collage House — Mumbai, India
A combination of different elements can bring out the best in each of them, and this structure in Mumbai is evidence of that. Put together piece-by-piece from the doors and windows of demolished homes, this house shows the potential of inventive framing and the "one man's trash" mentality.
The gorgeous geometry of the windows creates a pattern that isn't common in traditional builds, held within 100-year-old salvaged columns. As for the flooring, it's hewn from fabric waste, discarded slivers of cut stone and the beams of old houses. This is one home all designers should study.
2. The Bottle Houses — Cap-Egmont, Prince Edward Island
Colorful is a lacking descriptor for these houses made of recycled glass bottles — vibrant, brilliant, and prismatic are more fitting adjectives. Using more than 25,000 bottles collected from around the area, Édouard Arsenault created a masterpiece in aesthetic design far outside the norm.
The three buildings that comprise the bottle houses — a six-gabled house, a tavern and a chapel — are open as a tourist attraction. Though Arsenault died before he finished placing the final touches on his work, it stands as a fantastic example of both imaginative architecture and community service.
3. The Boot House — Huntsville, Texas
"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe," or so the old nursery rhyme goes. Taking inspiration from storybook architecture, Dan Phillips at Phoenix Commotion brought the fantasy to life with an enormous cowboy boot constructed from a combination of recycled material and donated junk.
A kitchenette and small bathroom occupy the first floor, with a spiral staircase leading up to a rooftop deck. The rest of the home exists in an attached bungalow. This is not the only original build from Phoenix Commotion, with other creative structures that turn convention on its head.
4. The Lifehaus — Lebanon
Nizar Haddad, the founder of Lifehaus, is meeting societal issues in Lebanon with sustainable housing solutions. With a sleek, space-age design and compact shape, his current plan promises to generate renewable energy and grow food. It also collects rainwater and filters grey water for reuse.
At half the price point of an unfurnished Lebanese home, Lifehaus offers its inhabitants a low-cost, high-quality standard of living. Using mud and clay instead of concrete, these units hold substantial promise for impoverished families in developing nations, as well as hope for a green future.
5. The Container Guest House — San Antonio, Texas
Taking the concept of "reuse and recycle" to its extreme, this guest house is a repurposed shipping container. It doesn't compromise comfort, however, as the interior has an open living area, a bathroom, and even storage. Regarding economy, the Poteet Architects made the most of their limited space.
A foundation of recycled telephone poles keeps the container stable, and a deck made of old soda bottles provides a quaint charm. More than that, the space conserves water through channeling the excess flow from its sinks and shower onto the rooftop garden, a clever use of plumbing that helps sustainability.
6. The Junk Castle — Pullman, Washington
Costing its creator only $500, the "Junk Castle" is Victor Moore's contribution to art and architecture. An artist, writer and high-school teacher, Moore pieced the structure together from scrap and recyclable materials he salvaged from a nearby junkyard, building it within a defunct rock quarry.
What began as a project for his MFA thesis assemblage sculpture grew into a colorful marvel of human achievement. Though Moore has since left and the property belongs to someone else, the "Junk Castle" still receives frequent visitors looking to catch a glimpse of this incredible building.
7. The Aviator's Villa — Dutchess County, New York
Designed for a retired pilot, this sophisticated villa sets the bar sky-high. Its fragmented structure and angular windows are anything but conventional, with its twist and torque meant to simulate the handling of a plane through the open air, and its exposure gives the sensation of living on a cloud.
But more than that, this ultramodern build is assembled from recycled airplane parts and components. Luxury doesn't have to draw excessive resources, and sustainability in high-cost construction is possible. This sleek, futuristic residence stands as an excellent example of that.
Building a Better Future
It begins with recyclable materials. With the finite resources available, a coordinated transition toward sustainability is in everyone's best interest. And the seven homes in this article should serve as profound inspiration for architects and entrepreneurs alike — professionals who want to make a difference.
From the Collage House in India to the Aviator's Villa in New York, green construction takes many forms.
Written by: Holly Welles, BOSS Contributor
Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers the latest market trends in everything from residential to commercial spaces. She is the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update, and curates more advice on Twitter.