Nicholas Jackson, The Atlantic Monthly
On a 55-acre chunk of property in the remote hills of Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, David Hertz Architects is putting the finishing touches on a house made out of an entire Boeing 747-200 aircraft. All 4,500,000 pieces. Once completed, the project will become the primary residence of an anonymous woman who owns a Mercedes car dealership and requested only curvilinear/feminine shapes for her new home.
The plane, which was purchased for less than $50,000 and transported to the site by helicopter at a cost of $8,000 per hour, has been deconstructed and put back together to form a main house and six ancillary structures — a meditation pavilion, an animal barn, an art studio building, etc. — on the property. (The architects compared this to how Native Americans used all parts of the buffalo.) Work is now being completed on the home’s interior and should be wrapped up by the end of the year.
“The 747 represented the single largest industrial achievement in modern history and its abandonment in the deserts make a statement about the obsolescence and ephemeral nature of our technology and our society,” the David Hertz website states.
As a structure and engineering achievement, the aircraft encloses a lot of space using the least amount of materials in a very resourceful and efficient manner. The recycling of the 4.5 million parts of this ‘big aluminum can’ is seen as an extreme example of sustainable reuse and appropriation. American consumers and industry throw away enough aluminum in a year to rebuild our entire airplane commercial fleet every three months.
On a handful of design-focused websites, including dornob, the project is being celebrated as the “ultimate recycled home.” The plane’s steel structure was used for load-bearing walls, while the light-weight aluminum shell and wings were reappropriated as roofing material and exterior walls. According to David Hertz, there are plans in place to implement several additional environmentally friendly features, such as natural ventilation, solar power and radiant heating.