recycled architecture


San Francisco Treehouse. A treehouse build 7.6 meters up in an 125-year-old coast live oak. Recycled, reclaimed and vintage materials have been used in the making. The whole construction has been put up in the tree without using any bolts or nails; therefore, not damaging the tree. The treehouse is truly magical because of its rustic interior and small details reminding of childhood. Located in Burlingame, San Francisco Bay, CA.    


Second Life: The Heineken WOBO Doubles as Beer Bottle and Brick

Fifty years ago, Heineken developed a revolutionary and sustainable design solution to give its beer bottles a second life: as an architectural brick. The concept arose after brewing magnate Alfred Heineken visited Curacao during a world tour of his factories in 1960. He was struck by the amount of beer bottles—many bearing his name—littering the beaches and the lack of affordable building materials for residents. In a stroke of genius (or madness), Heineken realized both problems could be solved if beer bottles could be reused as structural building components. Enlisting the help of Dutch architect N. John Habraken, Heineken created a new bottled design—dubbed the Heineken WOBO (World Bottle)—that doubled as a drinking vessel and a brick. As author and architecture critic Martin Pawley notes, the WOBO was “the first mass production container ever designed from the outset for secondary use as a building component.“ The new squared off bottle was both inter-locking and self-aligning, allowing it to nestle seamlessly and snugly into adjoining "bricks.” With Habraken’s design, a 10 by 10 foot hut could be constructed with 1,000 WOBO bottles. Though a test run of 100,000 bottles was produced in 1963, the marketing department’s worries about liabilities doomed the project. The WOBO was subsequently and unceremoniously retired. Though only two official WOBO buildings remain, both on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk near Amsterdam, the concept remains a powerful and inspiring one. Indeed, the experiment is a reminder of how a major corporation might seriously take on sustainability in an innovative way.


Linda Aldredge’s Treehouse. Linda is a graphic designer and the owner of an organic beauty products company. The treehouse was built in the summer of 2006 for approximately $12,000, the interior elements are mostly recycled. It runs on solar energy and has nice mosaic windows looking over a beautiful forest and a pond. Located in Catskill State Park, New York.


Nest We Grow - College of Environmental Design UC Berkeley / Kengo Kuma & Associates

Built in Hokkaido, Japan, as part of an international design competition in 2014 (the 4th annual LIXIL design-build competition), Nest We Grow was conceived with a shared vision of bringing the Californian style of growing to new Japan. With a focus on renewable materials, the design is the first public-access space built for the competition; designed to allow people to grow, store, prepare and share local foods. 

The heavy timber frame was also inspired by more western building approaches, with a plastic corrugated sheets allowing natural light to flood in, whilst also protecting crops from the winds during colder months. Sliding panels can also be opened during warmer months to better ventilate the interior space. Snow and rainwater are also harvested; reused in the production of food within. 

The whole space functions in a constant cycle. Food is grown, harvested, prepared, cooked, and finally composted; restarting the process anew. In this sense, the nest is intended to function the whole year round. 

See more at: ArchDaily

Some brilliant ideas for 20ft containers by Michael Janzen from Tiny House Living

This is just a little design exploration for how one might finish out a shipping container as a home.  Some of the issues I’m noodling-through are:

  1. Should a side door be cut into the container and how does that make the floor plan more flexible?
  2. Should the bathroom be placed at one end or in the middle?
  3. Should custom built-in beds be fabricated or can standard beds and bunk beds be used just as efficiently?
  4. How many beds can be placed inside a 20-foot shipping container and still have space for a micro kitchen and bathroom?

Not sure where this design exploration is going yet, but I’m having fun thinking about what can fit inside the box.


Noah Oasis - Vertical habitats from disused oil rigs

Oil rigs can be ugly things, and as they rust and decay they only become a worse blight on the ocean landscape. In an effort to change this, a group of Chinese designers - Ma Yidong, Zhu Zhonghui, Qin Zhengyu & Jiang Zhe - have produced a concept they call Noah Oasis; a vertical garden habitat that transforms rigs into something amazing. 

While the habitats would be shelters from the devastating effects of oil spills and other blights, they would also function as centres for research. At the top of the tower there would be large scale structures to allow for forest growth and places for birds to nest, with residential spaces and research wings in the middle sections, while beneath the water line large absorption lines (for drawing in spilt oil) would allow for the formation of reefs. 

They see their habitat functioning in three stages: 

“1. Short term strategy: absorption of spilled oil
when an oil spill incident happens, the floaters at the end of each pipe will immediately absorb the spilled oil covering the surface of the sea as an instant response.
2. Medium term strategy: habitat for marine life and migrating birds
the collected oil will be transported through the root-like pipes underwater to the central processor attached to the original rig, where the crude oil will be converted into catalyst for coral reef and produce plastic as building material. The catalyst will be transported back to the pipe to booster the growth of coral reef on its surface and the plastic will become the building material of the plastic-twig structure with the help of 3D printing and the injector. In this way, the project will become a habitat for vertical bio-habitat and help revive the biodiversity.
3. Long term strategy: shelter from future disasters
ultimately, when the sea level rises to a disastrous degree, the twig like structure would continue to remain above the sea level. Then the oil rig will become the noah oasis”

Whether the project is able to get off the ground or not remains to be seen, but this would certainly be a fantastic use of an otherwise decaying chunk of human waste. Can’t wait to see how it develops!

See more at: designboom


Dithyrambalina is a magical community installation and a village of musical, playable houses. That’s right. The structures themselves are recycled musical instruments, ready to express the joy, pain, or wonder of anyone who cares to take the time to play them.

Even before the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had been afflicted by huge numbers of run down properties and abandoned lots. These tragic symbols are the backdrop of city-wide dysfunction, but they are also the tableau in front of which New Orleans’ rich musical and visual heritage parades and performs. This project is an imaginative attempt to redress the futility of this blight by finding within it vast resources of salvageable materials. By turning our salvaged construction into a music box that is free, public, and playful we are inviting the wider community to imagine and participate in a new landscape of potential and possibility.


‘‘ Inversion ‘‘  The Tunnel Vision and Exploded House of  Dan Havel and Dean Ruck

Havel Ruck Projects (Dan Havel and Dean Ruck) is an artist collaborative that works in public and quasi-public environments to repurpose architectural structures and remnants of no perceived market value into works of art. By reorganizing the physical construction of unremarkable spaces and places, their interventions bring attention and recognition to underappreciated and ordinary buildings and their histories.

Thanks Artmouth