Bay Area architect builds home using salvaged car parts
Sure, it boasts passive solar design, sustainable landscaping and dual-flush toilets, but the real eco-showstopper at the Wanaselja-Leger residence? That would be the awnings and siding fabricated from junked cars.
From DIY shipping container homes to 450-square-foot “unfolding apartments” in Manhattan to airy pied-à-terres carved out of derelict French garages, filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen and the gang over at faircompanies have been on a roll as of late when it comes to giving viewers an inside look at remarkably creative — and provocative — low-impact living arrangements both on land and at sea. Well, sea-ish. I’m always thrilled when the newest faircompanies video is released. (Kirsten, where do you find your subjects? Or do they find you?)
One of the latest videos from faircompanies definitely qualifies as a doozy, and I’m thinking that you’ll enjoy it, especially those of you who have spent time in auto salvage yards daydreaming about what you could possibly create out of, umm, minivan windows and car roofs.
For Berkeley, Calif.-based eco-architect and auto enthusiast Karl Wanaselja, the time he spent rummaging around junk yards (we’re talking several months here) resulted in a 1,140-square-foot, two-bedroom home with glass awnings that in a previous life were Dodge Caravan windows and fish scale-inspired siding carefully fabricated from 104 car roofs.
And Wanaselja just didn’t stop at junked car parts. Other reclaimed materials such as poplar bark leftover from furniture manufacturing in North Carolina along with salvaged redwood are incorporated into the design of the slender, sustainable home that was built as an infill project on a narrow lot in a historic neighborhood near Berkeley's downtown core. To top it off, behind the main house in the backyard there’s a shipping container repurposed as Wanaselja’s architecture studio that he shares with his business partner and wife, Cate Leger. Before becoming a Build It Green-certified architect herself, Leger worked for the EPA and various environmental nonprofits in Washington, D.C.
To be clear, this isn’t some ramshackle, post-apocalyptic junkyard hut out of “Mad Max” (although Wanaselja’s plans for a future home built from crushed cars “stacked like bricks” seems to veer in that direction). It’s an elegant, energy-efficient and "resolutely green" home — dubbed "McGee House," the passive solar home boasts solar hot water heating, cellulose insulation, Energy Star appliances, drought-tolerant landscaping, and other eco-friendly features — that sticks out just enough from neighboring homes so that teenage daughter Chloe has to explain to friends’ parents dropping her off for the first time to “look for the house that’s different.” Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.
Video screenshot: faircompanies
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