From Trash to Treasure: the Evolution of the Recycled House

Burton-Street-Community-Asheville-Design-Center-1-537x358Have you ever actually watched a house or building being constructed?  It’s not very sustainable.  What’s all that bright pink insulation made out of?  What’s in paint that makes your lungs burn?  Was it really necessary to buy all new doors when there are like thirty perfectly good ones in the vacant lot behind the liquor store where you and your coworkers go on break to smoke weed?  On the spectrum of environmental responsibility, a new house can be equivalent to a massive Styrofoam takeout container.  But is there really any alternative?

Yes, actually, there is.  A house made of garbage.  No, seriously – thanks to recent advances in technology, you can make a house out of 100% recycled materials.  Of course, you’ve always been able to do that, though up until a few years ago, you literally had to assemble pieces of trash into a house-shaped structure.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Some of these literal piles of trash are, arguably, as aesthetically-pleasing as any Georgetown Federal.  But don’t take my word for it – let’s check out some of these recycled houses, going from the least advanced to the most advanced.

5294203940_0183e324f1_zTHE BOAT HOVEL

Ha ha!  It’s the most basic possible recycled house – a boat turned upside down.  This picturesque li’l hidey-hole is located in Lindisfarne Harbour, in the UK.  I bet the guy who lives here is pretty laid back.  He’s, like, your cool uncle with the eyepatch from a fishing accident, and no matter what time of day you ask him if it’s too early for a drink, he’ll just look at you like you’re a complete idiot, spit on the floor, and then pass you his flask.  Probably doesn’t smell too good though.

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junk-castle-6THE JUNK CASTLE

The infamous “Junk Castle” is located in Washington State, and is the life’s work of an artist named Victor Moore.  Moore built this house out of salvaged materials from junkyards and a local abandoned quarry, at a cost of less than $500.  From the outside it looks like a wacky, lovable Tim Burton house, but then you go inside and it looks like a dystopic sex dungeon.  I don’t know how you could ever relax in this place.  “Hey, glad you could make it, why don’t you grab a seat there on that pile of rusty iron pipes.”  I don’t know, man.  It’s progress, at least.

lacase_pagethreeLA CASA DE BOTELLAS

Located in Argentina, this indestructible little cabin is made from 1400 plastic water bottles, which last hundreds of years.  The doors and windows are made of CD cases, and the roof is made from Tetra Paks.  You have to admit, it looks nicer than you would’ve imagined if I told you to think of a house made of plastic water bottles with CD case doors.  Putting one together must be a huge pain, though.  Have you ever gotten high and then maniacally cleaned your entire house from top to bottom?  That’s the sort of attitude you need, times one thousand, to assemble 1400 water bottles into a house.

wikkelhouse_240416_09THE WIKKELHOUSE

Okay, here’s the gold standard of recycled houses.  Designed by Dutch architects, this modular home is made out of 100% recycled cardboard.  As illustrated in the photos below, they compress recycled cardboard into a massive roll of corrugated board, and then wrap it around a huge rotating mold.  There are 24 layers of cardboard, with glue between each layer;  the exterior is waterproofed with a breathable eco-friendly film, and the final product is covered with pine wood panels to protect it from the elements.  And since it’s modular, you can snap together as many pieces as you want, to form whatever size house you need.  Each module will cost around $4500, with kitchen and bathroom modules available.

You have to admit, this place is pretty cool.  I mean, this is the first recycled house that’s better, cost-wise and aesthetically, that’s clearly better than its conventionally-built equivalent.  The only reason I don’t live in one already is because I just see my mother coming over, looking around, and then saying, “hmm, so you got a college degree and still somehow ended up living in a cardboard box.”

wikkelhouse_240416_04  wikkelhouse_240416_07

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