I-Beam Design, a New York-based architecture firm, designed a 500-square-foot dwelling (known as Pallet House), composed of 100 reused shipping pallets.

The project, which took approximately one week to construct, was an entry in Architecture for Humanity’s transitional housing competition.

The goal: to create a low-cost shelter for victims who lost their homes in natural disasters or war. The result: a charming, $2,000 - $2,500 makeshift bungalow that features a multifunctional table and sitting area, a sleeping loft, benches and counter space, roof access, bathroom and shower area, window sill plant-holders, and a floor that extends to create a small outside deck. Tack on a doorman, and you have more amenities than most apartments in New York City.

(via A Pallet-able Architecture | Metropolis Magazine)

New Compost Bin, Part II

After yesterday’s exertions, today’s next steps started with making some lumber for the front panels. This involved taking apart another pallet – the fourth used to make the bin – into its component pieces.

This involved the use of my favorite and most-used tool, a Wonderbar, made by good old Stanley:

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I’ve used my wonderbar, which my mother gave me (or possibly left here by accident, to be appropriated into the homestead toolkit), extensively for prying trim off the walls, for destroying the front bedroom during Epic Remodel 2011, and all manner of other tasks. It’s the perfect tool for pulling apart pallets, too, because you can pound the angle end under a joint and pry up the wood enough to get a claw hammer into the space for some real leverage.

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All told, I spent about an hour sitting in the back alley hammering and prying and getting pleasantly rained on (yay summer!), and ultimately reduced the pallet to basically a bunch of usable 1x4s and 2x4s, bent nails, and scraps for the compost pile:

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I needed these pieces – the wood, not the nails; I reuse and upcycle a lot of things, but I am not that hardcore – for two parts of the bin, the “tracks” and the slats to make up the front wall. The 2x4 pieces, cut down by about eight inches, made excellent tracks; and the 1x4 pieces, extended by sistering two pieces together, made perfectly adequate slats.

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With that, new compost bin was complete! Here it is with all the slats in:

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And here it is with the top foot or so of in-progress compost from the old pile, plus that wheelbarrow full of sticks and stuff culled from the back yard proper:

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I am very pleased with how this project turned out. The bin is a good size and I like the location, and it’s very satisfying to have a major infrastructure improvement made entirely for free (the screws were leftover from various other household projects). I’m also delighted that I got it completed the day before I return to work for the biggest and busiest weekend of the year – it seems like I usually leave whatever I’m working on half-finished for far too long, and this time I did it all in two days.

Next up, next week (or later): harvesting the rest of the old pile and throwing whatever isn’t composted into the new bin. Related to this is building some new raised beds for the raspberries and strawberries, which is where I’ll need nice composted soil.

More palletecture — pallets used as building material

Students in the University of Colorado’s design+build studio used pallet wood, 2x4s reclaimed from an old railroad bridge, and various other found and donated materials to construct two pavilions for local non-profit organizations to use for open-air markets and other agricultural and environmental purposes.

The project, completed in 2010, has earned awards from local and state AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapters. 

(photos by Nathan Jenkins; via architectural firm Studio H:T, whose principals were involved with the project)

For construction photos, see the design+build studio’s Facebook album here.

vertical gardening

I got very disillusioned with growing things when everything I planted was eaten by slugs in 2012.  Small steps now with a pallet and some window boxes my mother in law didn’t want. This is swiss chard. I’m on the look out for hardy “greens” that will be happy to spend the winter on the garage wall.

We often feature examples of palletecture and cargotecture – wood shipping pallets and metal shipping containers repurposed for architectural uses – though seldom come across the two incorporated into one project. One of the few examples involving both types of repurposing can be found in this earlier Unconsumption post about Infiniski’s Manifesto House in Chile. 

As you can imagine, I was psyched to learn during my most recent trip to Dallas about the opening of The Foundry, a beer garden in the Oak Cliff neighborhood, which features BOTH palletecture and cargotecture, among other examples of creative reuse.

The Foundry’s stage, designed by Gary Buckner, is constructed from used pallets, and several decommissioned shipping containers furnished with second-hand items serve as lounge areas.

For additional information on The Foundry and attached restaurant Chicken Scratch, see this D Magazine review. From writer Carol Shih: “Just about every piece of furniture and design – from the hanging lamps fashioned out of crates to the wall decor – is a lesson in recycling." 

Well done, isn’t it? 

Photos, top to bottom, used with permission from Flickr user Bullneck and Instagram users Megan Smith (@megan_sm on Instagram), Matt Shelley (@mattshelley), Fred Pena (@alfredchingon), and @redondallas. Bottom photo via D Magazine.

Beautiful new floor made from old pallets

A couple days after writing about Arctic Plank floors [Unconsumption’s post about it is here] made with reclaimed shipping pallets, Oregon-based Viridian Wood Products announced two new flooring products made from shipping pallets and crates. The two lines are FSC-certified, 100% reclaimed, and available with or without a low-VOC polyurethane finish. 

Viridian Wood Products may contribute towards LEED credits in a number of categories, including for materials reuse, recycled content, regional materials, and certified wood.

(via Jetson Green)

Special note: In the Jetson Green post’s comments, a reader addresses the subject of safety of pallet wood reuse, noting that some wood’s been treated with chemicals to help kill or repel insects and/or bacteria. Viridian’s owner responds, saying the company uses heat-treated (not chemically treated) wood and has had no problems with it.

Related: On the Unconsumption Facebook page, we’ve discussed the idea of using heat-treated pallets instead of chemically treated products. And, over on TreeHugger, Lloyd Alter has also brought up the subject. (See his recent post titled Are pallets unpalletable building material?)

For other pallet repurposing ideas/projects – furniture, palletecture, and more – see the Unconsumption archives here.

More palletecture — pallets repurposed as building material

We’ve come across wooden pallets repurposed for many uses, more furniture than architectural applications — palletecture, as some of us refer to it — though we’ve spotted several examples of the latter. 

Now here’s another palletecture project (via eVolo) to add to the list:

A pavilion, designed by Avatar Architettura, at the German Institute of Culture’s Villa Romana in Florence.

(Am I the only person who wishes the structure hadn’t been covered in PVC?!) 

From The $200 Microhouse -

Derek Diedricksen makes “playful micro-shelters out of junk” in the backyard of his home in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

“At about 24 square feet, the Gypsy Junker [pictured above], made primarily out of shipping pallets, castoff storm windows and a neighbor’s discarded kitchen cabinets, is the largest of Mr. Diedricksen’s backyard structures.”

“Sawed-off yellow, blue and green wine bottle bottoms make for a colorful lower-level window in the guest area, and there is a heating unit with an exterior vent built from a frying-pan base, with a broken brass cymbal that serves as a heat reflector." The exterior counter is the side of an old front-loading washing machine. (He used the washing machine’s porthole-like window in another structure made from salvaged materials.)

"Mr. Diedricksen makes a living doing carpentry and spends a lot of time as Mr. Mom to his two young children, but he has also been a comic book writer, a D.J. and a home inspector, and is a drummer in a Rage Against the Machine tribute band called Age Against the Machine.”

Read the rest of The New York Times story, and view a slideshow of Diedricksen's various cabins, here.

His video of the Gypsy Junker is here.

Junkitecture. Palletecture. Charming.

(hat tip to Naomi Seldin, @SimplerLiving on Twitter)

Palletecture yields savings of both material and financial resources

For a kitchen/bath industry show and conference, Crystal Cabinet Works designed and built its own trade show booth using 120 shipping pallets.

“If we’d built this booth out of typical exhibitry, it would have cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” [Don] Papa says. “But with the reused pallets and internal labor, the materials and construction were practically free.”

(via Waste Watchers – EXHIBITOR magazine)

See also: Other ideas for pallet repurposing here, and convention material upcycling here.

More palletecture – pallets repurposed as building material

Wood reclaimed from cargo container pallets is used on the walls, floor, and ceiling of a new addition to Hogue Hall, Central Washington University’s engineering and technology building. LMN Architects of Seattle designed the project – the renovation and expansion of the outdated building constructed in 1970 – to LEED platinum standards. (via Daily Record)

The use of used pallet-wood in CWU’s building is the most elegant-looking pallet-reuse example I’ve come across. I suspect I’m not the only person who looks forward to seeing other photos of the building. (The entire project is expected to be completed in 2012.) 

See also: Earlier Unconsumption posts on palletecture and other uses of pallets.

Palletecture — pallets repurposed as building material

We’ve seen wooden pallets repurposed for many uses. Reuse as furniture and shelving seems to be more common than use for architectural applications – palletecture, as many of us like to call it – though we’ve seen a variety of examples of that. 

Here's another palletecture example (via Designwatcher) to add to the list:

Salvaged pallets help to filter light into bedding-maker Matteo’s outlet in Los Angeles. Inside the store, pallet wood lines the walls and is used as display fixtures. (Click on the photo above to see an interior shot of the store.)

What do you think? Are you a fan of the rustic look?