On a Wing and a Prayer: The Recycled Airplane House

When Native Americans killed a buffalo, they used every last part of it. From the meat to the hide to the bones, not a scrap was wasted. That’s the concept cited by architect David Hertz as the inspiration behind the Wing House: a multi-section house being constructed out of a recycled Boeing 747 in the remote hills of Malibu, California.

The project started with a unique site that was once owned by designer Tony Duquette. Duquette was known for incorporating found objects into the structures on his land, a fact which later inspired David Hertz to search for a novel answer to his client’s requests. The current owner of the property wanted a new home with a curved, feminine roof; after some consideration it was decided that the wing of a 747 would provide the perfect area and the desired shape.

The idea developed from there, with Hertz finally realizing that using the entire airplane was a more cost-effective solution than using only one part. Hundreds of retired airplanes have been resigned to the desert where they languish until they are sold for the price of their principal material: aluminum.

Hertz and his team found that they could purchase an entire 747 for around $50,000, an exceptionally reasonable price for the amount of material contained in the huge airplane. The design team decided to use just about every part of the plane to construct a home in seven different sections.

The home will be comprised of the main residence, a guest house, a meditation pavilion, an animal barn and an art studio, among other features. A fire feature and water element make use of some of the more industrial-looking parts of the aircraft.

The design of the home is ultimately meant to be as eco-friendly as possible. The very act of re-using an airplane rather than acquiring all new materials for the home means that plenty of construction-related waste is spared while a huge amount of previously-discarded materials (namely, a 395,000 pound airplane) is kept from ever entering the waste stream. But additionally, the finished home will make use of natural ventilation, radiant heating and solar power to up its eco-friendly factor.

Even with the recycled components, building a massive structure such as this one in the middle of nowhere is never going to be the most environmentally friendly solution possible. Still, if one is going to build a huge house in the hills of Malibu anyway, they might as well make use of one of the many hundreds of massive airplanes currently sitting unused. The Wing House is expected to be completed sometime in mid-2010.


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