In Celebration of Earth Day: Amazing Recycled Architecture

Ever since the day my mom found out I was writing for an environmentally friendly blog she's continuously suggested I write something on homes made from junk. For Earth Day and in honor of my mom who taught me to be creative, a good person and to love trees, below is a list of unique and innovative homes made of recycled material.

1. Cardboard House

Remember the days when your dad would cut out a door and some windows out of a giant cardboard box and then you got inside box to play house? Well imagine now a giant more sophisticated version of a house made of cardboard and you may see something like inexpensive temporary housing option made from cardboard. All the material in the house is recycled. To find out more about it go to Houses of the Future.

2. Scrap House

Some save scrap in their garage to build stuff for their homes. Others find scrap at garbage dumps and use it to build a home. This is a 700 sq ft single-family house built for Earth Day 2005from salvaged scrap material. The house has furniture, a kitchen, a bathroom, two bedrooms, a deck, and a yard. Watch the video and listen to where some of the scrap comes from and how much it all cost. Check out the funky music in the background too. For more on the scrap house project visit Scrap House .



3. Phone-booth Home

With the Internet available there is hardly any use to look up addresses or phone numbers in the phonebook anymore. Yet still we receive them and since there is no -opt off the phonebook list- available in 2005 a group of Architecture students from Dalhousie University decided to build a one-room home with it. To build it they used about 7,000 phone books. Can you imagine the potential of this?



4. Highway House

This house was built from dismantled highway pieces. In 2006 Pedini, a civil engineer used steel and concrete left as waste, from a $14.6 billion highway construction project in Boston, to make the "Big Dig House" in just 3 days. The house, which is now on a hill in Lexington, is 4,300-square feet large. The house cost $645,000 to build and kept tons of steel and concrete from ending up in the dump.




5. Bottle House

Environmental activist in Bolivia have created a house that can help the environment as well as those in need by making a house made out of bottles. Thousands of bottles are filled with sand and then connected together and reinforced with cement and steel. Watch the video to take a look at this fascinating environmentally friendly and affordable home. For more pictures on other amazing bottle houses click here.



6. Railroad Car House

In Sausalito, California a house is made of a Pullman car from the San Francisco Northern Pacific Railroad. It is among a community of floating houses and is hooked up to sewage, electricity and water. They are also secured to docks.


7. Shipping Container House

Designer Keith Dewey built this house for his family. He reused eight decommissioned containers (once used to hold consumer goods) to build this two-story house. The inside of the house is eco-friendly too. For example, a reclaimed claw-foot bathtub for the bathroom and the cabinets and floor are made of bamboo. The neat thing about it is that this idea is catching on quickly. More and more designers are using shipping containers to build homes .


8. Boeing 727-200 House

Jo Ann Ussery, a grandma, had the right idea when she bought a Boeing 727-200 and turned this retired jetliner into her new home. The house has three bedrooms, a living room/dining room, a kitchen, a laundry area and a master bathroom with a Jacuzzi. The tail of the plane is anchored in 18 inches of concrete. The nose extends past the shoreline of the lake.



9. The Can House

Architect Richard Van Os Keuls from Silver Spring, Maryland used aluminum cans to build part of his house. The cans are washed out, flattened and then nailed to an insulated plywood wall. There are no plans to paint the surface of these very colorful cans. He likes the way they shine. Also read about the Orange House in Houston that was decorated with beer cans.


10. Tire House

When a house is made with from tires dirt is packed into the tires and then the tires are laid like brick. About 2,500 tires were needed. The walls are then covered in either an adobe coating or a concrete coating.


11. Paper House



The Paper House is exactly what it sounds like. It is a house made out of paper and was built by Mr. Elis F. Stenman, a mechanical engineer. He is the same guy who designed the machines that make paper clips. The house is located North of Boston,
in Rockport, Massachusetts. The furniture in the house is also made of paper. Yes, even the piano.


12. Newspaper House


This house was built with a purpose, to show the amount of newspaper we waste and what can be done with it. 60,000 newspapers were used to build it. Rolled up and piled up they are inserted between a wooden frame.



13. Glass House

This is a house made with reclaimed glass. I am unaware who built it or when it was built, but according to the flicker description there has been a long struggle to keep this historical work of art standing. Take a look at the Glass House slideshow click here.


14. Gingerbread House

The Gingerbread House is not eatable nor can it be lived in, but it is an amazing piece of work knitted together from top to bottom. Almost everything in the house, for the exception of a wooden door and windows is knitted. The furniture, the food, the garden, the 12-foot trees, etc are knitted. Designed by Alison Murray, the 140 square foot house was knitted by hundreds of women across the world.



15. Earthship Homes

Earthship is an organization that builds homes made of recycled material. Their main material consists of tires, aluminum, glass and plastic bottles. Want to take a part (volunteer, build etc) in recycled architecture checkout Earthship .


16-22. Is there a unique recycled house I haven't added to the list? Please feel free to send me a link or add it in the comments section.

I hope you have enjoyed the list and that it inspires you to think twice before throwing something in the garbage. You never know what can be turned into a home. Imagine waking up in the morning in your eco-friendly home and everything you see and touch from floor to ceiling has been made from recycled or reused material, but it doesn't look recycled, unless you want that look. Recycled homes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are prettier than the others, but the general goal is the same: to make what some think of as trash into a treasure of shelter for everyone. It can be done. It has been done.

Happy Earth Day!

For more ideas or books to read on recycled architecture visit Green Home Building.


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Apr 22, 2008
by Anonymous

Is the cardboard house made of cardboard?

Is the cardboard house made of cardboard? Or just look like cardboard.

From the picture, it looks like wood. Am I right?

Apr 22, 2008
by LoveInventions
LoveInventions's picture

That was brilliant

Brilliant article Gloria. 


The glass house looks like it’s going to collapse, my favourite would have to be the Boeing 727-200 house

Jan 6, 2009
by Anonymous

the can house

i think that we could actually use cans a a substitute for shingles it would be a really good idea .we could really recycle that way.!