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Boeing 747 Recycled Into a Private Residence 239

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the would-you-like-to-see-my-cockpit dept.
Ponca City writes "Nicholas Jackson writes in the Atlantic about a woman who requested only curvilinear/feminine shapes for her new home and has purchased an entire Boeing 747-200. They transported it by helicopter to her 55-acre property in the remote hills of Malibu and after deconstructing it, had all 4,500,000 pieces put back together to form a main house and six ancillary structures including a meditation pavilion, an animal barn, and an art studio building. 'The scale of a 747 aircraft is enormous — over 230 feet long, 195 feet wide and 63 feet tall with over 17,000 cubic feet of cargo area alone and represents a tremendous amount of material for a very economical price of less than $50,000,' writes Architect David Hertz. 'In researching airplane wings and superimposing different airplane wing types on the site to scale, the wing of a 747, at over 2,500 sq. ft., became an ideal configuration to maximize the views and provide a self supporting roof with minimal additional structural support needed.' Called the 'Wing House,' as a structure and engineering achievement, the aircraft encloses an enormous amount of space using the least amount of materials in a very resourceful and efficient manner, and the recycling of the 4.5 million parts of this 'big aluminum can' is seen as an extreme example of sustainable reuse and appropriation. Interestingly enough, the architects had to register the roof of the house with the FAA so pilots flying overhead would not mistake it as a downed aircraft."
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Boeing 747 Recycled Into a Private Residence

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  • One with enough computers to stand up to /.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Quantus347 (1220456)
      Actually, thats not a bad Idea. When it comes down to it a plane is a structurally sound sealed can of high-grade aluminum, a common and ideal material for heat sinks and dispersal. All youd have to do is gut any insulation inside and sink it in a nice cold lake, which any deep enough can be.
      • by alta (1263)

        Good point, those wings would make awesome heat sinks. And with the gas tanks and fuel lines, it's pre-made for liquid cooling.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you sunk it in a lake, it would rapidly fill up with water - aircraft are *not* air tight...
    • Screw that. If a 747 is only 50K, I'm building my next house out of a couple of DC-10s and laugh at all the money and time I saved.
  • Another Variation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zyrkyr (594993) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:49AM (#33961776)
    A guy here in Oregon had the same idea, but without the architectural finesse: http://www.airplanehome.com/ [airplanehome.com]
  • by onionman (975962) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:51AM (#33961816)

    I'm assuming that the architect will consult with the appropriate engineers before building the structure, but still I wonder how a house with airplane wings for roofs will fair in a major storm?

    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:12PM (#33962110)

      ...I wonder how a house with airplane wings for roofs will fair in a major storm?

      "Whooosh..."

    • it will be no different than any other roof. The walls will prevent airflow being under the wing which will destroy the potential for the tremendous lift capabilities of the airfoil. All roofs experience a certain amount of up forces in wind, but they rarely overcome gravity, and if they do still have to be strong enough to overcome the mechanical connections (roof to wall to foundation). As for the water tightness, that should be very easy. I imagine that drip edges at all of the wall to underside of r
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:53AM (#33961834) Homepage Journal
    You think your life is a train-wreck? Well, my house is a plane crash!
  • That's pretty awesome, actually.

    I'm stunned you can buy an entire decommissioned 747 for $50K -- that's a lot of material.

    My favorite thing from the second link is:

    Although, we did find out that we have to register the roof of the house with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) so pilots flying overhead do not mistake it as a downed aircraft.

    Now that would make for some strange calls to flight control ... uhh ... tower. ;-)

    • Speaking of which, why do they need to keep the wings? It's not like someone can live in that part, and it massively increases the probability of a pilot misidentifying it from above.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Speaking of which, why do they need to keep the wings?

        Why? You couldn't build a better roof-truss than a wing of a 747. It's a huge structure designed to support lots of weight.

        Use it as a roof, and it's basically an engineering marvel. From the same article I quoted before:

        In researching airplane wings and superimposing different airplane wing types on the site to scale, the wing of a 747, at over 2,500 sq. ft., became an ideal configuration to maximize the views and provide a self supporting roof with

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Speaking of which, why do they need to keep the wings? It's not like someone can live in that part, and it massively increases the probability of a pilot misidentifying it from above.

        Judging by the pictures they'll be used for aesthic and/or shading purposes.

      • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:26PM (#33962294)

        Because she wanted *feminine* shapes, and without the wings a 747 looks anything but ;-)

    • I'm stunned you can buy an entire decommissioned 747 for $50K -- that's a lot of material.

      I'm sure the cost of moving the plane far exceeded the price of the plane itself. If you have a 747 sitting around you no longer need it's probably expensive to dismantle and recycle, and after a while "$50k and you haul" sounds like a deal.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        I'm sure the cost of moving the plane far exceeded the price of the plane itself.

        Dude, seriously, at least try to read some of the article:

        Additionally, incorporating prefabricated lightweight components off site and delivering them to the remote site via helicopter, although at a cost of $8,000/hr. became realistic after considering the cost of getting traditional labor and material to the site.

        Yes, it was expensive. But, in the context of this project, it was "cost effective" -- outrageously expensive,

        • can't read the article, the site's down :p

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            can't read the article, the site's down :p

            Oh, sure, that's what they all say. ;-)

            Thanks, now I've refreshed my page to confirm what you say, and I no longer have the article either. Bastard!! ;-)

        • by timeOday (582209)
          It blows me away that renting a helicopter costs $8,000 / hr. Apparently you can operate some tactical fighter jets [keypublishing.com] for less than that. (By this source the F16 is down to $5K/hr, while the F22 is up to $40K/hr... gulp).
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Nope it costs NOTHING to dismantle and recycle. People will gladly buy them. There is a crapload of aluminum and copper in those things.

        Recycling a plane is a net profit.

    • by alta (1263) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:01PM (#33961966) Homepage Journal

      I think the guy should have authorization to talk to tower just like any other.

      Tower, AC156D, going to read, over.

      Tower, AC156D, taking a piss, over.

      Tower, AC156D, tower using microwave, over.

      Tower, joining the Mile High club, at 12ft, over.

      • Re:Holy crap! (Score:4, Informative)

        by LoudMusic (199347) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:23PM (#33962262)

        I think the guy should have authorization to talk to tower just like any other.

        ...

        Except that it is owned by a woman.

        ... a woman who requested only curvilinear/feminine shapes for her new home and has purchased an entire Boeing 747-200 ...

  • sad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:55AM (#33961868) Homepage

    too bad he had to level a hilltop and clear away some forest to build his stupid house.

    recycling?
    greenwash fail.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      too bad he had to level a hilltop and clear away some forest to build his stupid house.

      Well, someone with 55 acres of land in Malibu aren't doing this for environmental reasons.

      In this case, it seems like it was a means to an end since she wanted all curved shaped. This isn't an "environmental" project, this is an innovative architect.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Where do you propose people build houses? Only on naturally level ground, on which no vegetation is growing?

      My hunting cabin is making LEED Silver, despite my having to 'clear away for forest' and 'level a hilltop'.

      • Re:sad... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:12PM (#33962114) Journal
        How 'bout building in some place has already been graded, attached to the utilities, and has road access? Like, say, the endless horizons of unfinished subdivisions, abandoned buildings, and decayed urban centers in the world?

        Better yet, buy and existing structure and renovate it, which is far greener than most new construction.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          ... so if I buy some land in the country ... I can't level land and cut trees down to build a house? Granted, a plane is a bit different... but if I own my own property?
          • by necro81 (917438)

            I can't level land and cut trees down to build a house?

            You may, but it's a bit disingenuous to then go prancing around about how "green" it is, no matter how many repurposed wings you stick on it.

          • Re:sad... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by kg8484 (1755554) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:30PM (#33962348)
            No, you can do it, but don't call it green. It's like what Scott Adams said when he was building his "green" home [wsj.com]:

            The greenest home is the one you don't build. If you really want to save the Earth, move in with another family and share a house that's already built.

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              No, you can do it, but don't call it green

              The owner of this house is not calling this green. The architect isn't even really calling it green.

              In this case, a clever architect decided it would be cheaper to meet his (rich) client's needs by reusing parts of an airplane.

              "Recycled" in this case is not an indication that this was intended to be an environmentally friendly house. It's a mansion, and some of the design goals were well met by using the existing components of a 747.

              This isn't some tree hugger makin

        • Last place on the planet I want to live, is in a decaying urban center.

          As for buying an existing structure, my current home is a nearly 200 year old farmhouse, so I'm on board with that idea. But where I need a cabin, there are no existing structures to renovate.

          I like how you saved that a in your first sentence though. You really minimized consumption of resources on that one.

        • According to the architects site they are doing this using the footprints of existing structures that were destroyed in a fire. So this is a fairly eco-friendly installation.
          • Aw... you went and ruined their smug righteous indignation... that's like all a green fanatic has to brighten their dreary soy-fueled lives.
        • What is it you think he's going to hunt?

      • So, for the purposes of slaughtering innocent woodland creatures, you cleared away forest, bulldozed a hilltop, built a cabin, ... and then got an environmental stamp of approval for the project?

        You are my hero. Call me up and let's go find Bambi.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)

      What they should have done, is just bury the nose of the airplane in the side of the hill with the rest of the plane intact. This would cause multiple reports to 911 by people scanning Google maps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by llZENll (545605)

      i don't know how much aluminum is in a 727, but i would guess a lot, i do know it is a very energy intensive process to mine and refine aluminum, more so than many other materials. might it be 'greener' to recycle the aluminum and use brand new materials for the house? greenwash from many angles...

  • Just one problem: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:57AM (#33961902) Homepage
    Isn't a 747 about as falic a shape as you can get?
    • by spun (1352)

      Not exactly curvilinear/feminine shaped, is it? I think what she wants is a house made out of large sheets of ham thrown against the side of a cliff.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by knappe duivel (914316)
      If your penis is 747-shaped you have a big problem, mr WiglyWorm
    • by vlm (69642)

      Nice misspelling. www.getfirefox.com

      Ariane rocket, specifically AR40 model? I believe that style is referred to as "cut" as opposed to "uncut".

      A BGM-109 has rather manly proportions for an unmanned missile.

      In the era of, and preceding, "dont ask dont tell", it seems pretty obvious why most rocket designers had to be civilians instead of military personnel. Must have driven the security clearance officers crazy.

    • Re:Just one problem: (Score:5, Informative)

      by KnownIssues (1612961) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:43PM (#33964242)
      No, your penis is as phallic a shape as you can get.
  • If oil continues an upward trend, and we don't find a suitable substitute, air travel will become far more expensive in the future. The air line industries are already having difficulty, so maybe they will subsidize by selling some aircraft off for recycling.

    Instead of just one house though, they could probably use the materials to do a lot more. I don't know what. Is there rare earth elements in them? Maybe that part alone will become worth more than the plane if China has its way.

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      If oil continues an upward trend, and we don't find a suitable substitute, air travel will become far more expensive in the future. The air line industries are already having difficulty, so maybe they will subsidize by selling some aircraft off for recycling.

      Some airlines are having difficulty, others are making money quite nicely.

      The financial crisis put a big damper on business travel - particularly in Business and First class - which is most airline's bread and butter. This trend has started to rever

    • by vlm (69642)

      Instead of just one house though, they could probably use the materials to do a lot more. I don't know what. Is there rare earth elements in them?

      Being mostly aluminum, the first thing that comes to mind is a nice mobile home, but I'm guessing a rich chick like her would not want to live in a doublewide. And the last thing Hawaii needs is a tornado/hurricane magnet as its well known on the mainland that those things attract tornadoes.

      The most exotic component of aircraft of that era is probably some of the counterbalancing weights, which were probably removed before she got it. Solid blocks of W in the old days, depleted U in the modern era. In he

  • Sure, they bought the plane for $40k (according to the video), but then they are paying $2 million to build the house. That is slightly more than what most people consider "reasonable" for the cost of a house.
    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      55 acres in Hawaii. Any idea on cost for the land? $2mil for building something on it is just a drop in the bucket...

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        55 acres in Hawaii.

        Not Hawaii. Malibu, California.

        And, I'm sure it's a hell of an expensive plot of land. I'm betting absurdly expensive, in fact. $2 million to build it probably is gonna translate into an overall property worth several times that.

      • by davev2.0 (1873518)
        The cost of the land in no way makes the US$2 million more economical. It just means the land itself was not economical either.

        To me, this is just a person who is spending way too much money to be able to say "I built my house using a recycled 747 because I wanted all curved shapes". What one could have done with that money is build a house that would have very little ecological impact and used considerably less energy and water.

        It takes a lot of money to build a truly "green" house, and the person in thi
    • My guess is that the house could be built for a lot less. Considering where this house is being built, I doubt cost is much of a concern.

      If you consider the fuselage to be nothing more than the outer shell, $40k is still reasonable. What you put in it is up to you. In areas where land is cheap, I wonder if this approach could be used to construct office or warehouse facilities.

  • Radiactive Waste? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Manip (656104) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:00PM (#33961950)
    Did nobody mention to her that planes are very radioactive partly because they spend so much time in the thinner atmosphere and partly because there is depleted uranium (which is more likely to cause heavy metal poisoning) used as weights within them? Sounds like a lovely material to build a house out of. Maybe she should paint the outside with lead based paint, water the garden with agent orange and then install asbestos for installation? Jokes aside - fools with their money. This fool sounds like she has a ton to waste and deserves what she gets.
    • Re:Radiactive Waste? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:06PM (#33962026)
      It depends on when the aircraft was built as to whether it has DU as its weights or not, some 747s do and some do not. The radioactivity picked up from high altitude flying is negligible in terms of future use of the material, its never going to be emitting enough radiation to be an issue.
      • Re:Radiactive Waste? (Score:4, Informative)

        by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:37PM (#33962446)

        The original poster doesn't even understand what neutron activation is or how its completely irrelevant to this situation, yet he's scared of it. Brilliant.

        you could have accurately shortened it to

        its never going to be emitting radiation.

        The stereotypical granite countertops are probably going to pump out about as much gammas as she'd get from flying at low altitude.

    • by AJWM (19027)

      Maybe she should paint the outside with lead based paint,

      Hey, that'd take care of the radiation problem.

  • Aerophile (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:03PM (#33962000) Homepage

    In researching airplane wings and superimposing different airplane wing types on the site to scale, the wing of a 747, at over 2,500 sq. ft., became an ideal configuration to maximize the views and provide a self supporting roof.

    Let me guess -- it creates a lifelike visual stage with mellow yet crisp organic textures and deep black interscene silences. The muscular yet deft support structure enhances the vista responses of the viewer, allowing full appreciation for the rich yet subtle display of thermal inversion in the valley below.

    • Let me guess -- it creates a lifelike visual stage with mellow yet crisp organic textures and deep black interscene silences. The muscular yet deft support structure enhances the vista responses of the viewer, allowing full appreciation for the rich yet subtle display of thermal inversion in the valley below.

      That was uncalled for. Don't do that around here, OK?

  • I realize the "wing house" is not really just an intact airplane but as others have posted, folks apparently have been known to use them intact as well. Since these need to get up to a rather high altitude, I assume they're fairly well insulated already. I do wonder, though, how much insulation would be left and if it's truly suitable as a home (aside form the oddball nature of it) without major remodeling aside from putting up walls for rooms.

    I also wonder if the $50,000 included transportation costs. S

    • by demonbug (309515)

      First, it is Malibu, so no insulation needed - it is always 78 degrees out, except for those times when the whole place is on fire (this happens every 5-15 years).

      Second, and more seriously, one of the articles indicated transport costs of $8,000 per hour for the helicopter used. I'm guessing it was picked up at the Mojave Airport (large mothball fleet there), so probably a couple of hours round trip. I would guess it would take several trips to move an entire 747, even if it is conveniently disassembled (u

  • I call shenanigans... Where did they put the fuel tanks, the Engines, and you cant use the wiring for the house, it's not even the same type of wiring. Also all those uncomfortable seats. The house is going to have incredibly ugly furniture.

    From the photos it looks like they only used a few parts of the aircraft. and the home could have been built without any airplane being flown to the worksite.....

    • I guess it comes down to your definition of "all". Some of the parts you mentioned could be stripped and sold as scrap. Others could be sent off to a used parts warehouse. I don't know what anyone could do with those ugly seats, but I'm not sure this particular 747 was a passenger plane. If it was cargo plane (as some 747s are), the interior would be almost entirely bare.

      Perhaps their definition of "using it all" simply means they did not send anything to a landfill.

      To me, the purchase price of $40k mea

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I don't know what anyone could do with those ugly seats

        I've sat on ex-airplane seats in two nightclubs (one in London, one in Berlin). They fitted very well with the decor -- in one case as scrap airline seats from dystopian present, in the other as spaceship seats from the year 3000.

    • The engines were doubtless used for parts before the plane was purchased. You also clearly know shit about planes because most of the fuel is stored in the wings. Seats are interior furnishings, not part of the structure of the aircraft. Further, the airplane was not flown to the site (did you see a runway on top of that hill?), it was brought in on trucks, just as any house-building material would have been brought in.

      So your criticisms are fail, fail, and fail with a side of ignorance.
  • by trb (8509) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:08PM (#33962066)
  • They started talking about "first-class". I am not familiar with this at all. When I go to the airport, after I get strip searched the security guards usually duct tape me to my baggage and check me in steerage-class. I'm happy if I arrive at my destination.
    • That's what happens when you tell the ticket agent, "Please don't lose my bags." Stop making such outrageous requests and they will let you sit with the rest of the passengers.

  • Not impressed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anotheryak (1823894) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:15PM (#33962144)

    A lot of people have built homes from disused airplanes. Nothing new there.

    This is "much ado about nothing" from a rich woman interested in some self-serving publicity about how wonderful she is.

    A "meditation pavilion"? Really? She recycles a couple wings, which are rather easily to recycle anyway by melting them down, but then throw away most of the airplane instead of using the fuselage as a home. Then, as others have mentioned, she cuts the top off a mountain for her feminine palace-thing.

    And the "use all parts of the Buffalo" quote is more self-serving crap. First of all, it's a Bison, not a Buffalo. Second, they only "used all parts" because they were bloody hard to obtain. You try killing a giant, angry bull with a rock and a stick and see how hard it is.

    When times were good, and they had lots of bison, they just cut off the best parts and left the rest to rot--this can be documented from the multiple "buffalo jump" sites where they chased Bison off cliffs. You take all the parts from a couple because you need them, but when it gets down to the end, you just cut off the humps and tongues. The "perfectly ecological Native American" is a myth invented by Europeans. The Native Americans are the same as humans all over the globe. What a shock.

  • Have any of you ever seen a 747?

    -b

    • Re:Feminine shape? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:31PM (#33962350) Homepage Journal

      Sorry to respond to myself but I just had to add some things.

      -no, they sure as hell did not disassemble all 4,500,000 pieces. Most of that number is fasteners (rivets) which are destroyed by being removed (and need to be replaced).

      -here are a few things that aren't part of a "sustainable" house: many pounds of lead, cadmium all over the place, hydraulic fluid, fuel cells with fuel residue, halon fire suppression system, primer loaded with chromates, toxic insulation, plastic and fabric treated with flame retardants, etc.

      -trucked cross-country

      What this amounts to is a pile of used scrap aluminum generously sprinkled with hazardous waste. 8 years in aviation maintenance has been enough for me to lose any childhood fantasies about living in airplanes.

      It just bugs me that they're using words like green and sustainable around an airplane. Might as well build a house out of pre-RoHS electronics.

      -b

    • Have any of you ever seen a 747?

      Yeah, the engines. Large, round, very noisy.

      Seems like a lot of women I know.

  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:17PM (#33962170) Homepage

    On move-in day, each item is a carry-on and subject to a baggage fee of $50. You can't have an airplane without junk fees!

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:33PM (#33962386)

    When I was a boy, we lived in the landing gear of a crashed Spitfire! . . .

  • "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."

    "Captain, our hyperbole filters are at 127% capacity and rising! I'm diverting power from weapons and life support to create an inverse tachyon pulse using the main deflector dish to try and compensate!"

    I'm a hardcore plane guy. (Boeing products in particular) But at the end of the day....it's just

    • by speroni (1258316)

      Even to keep it in the realm of aircraft there's the F-22, JSF, Stealth Bombers, SR-71s, ...

      In commercial aircraft there's still the A380 and the 787...

  • This is just to show that money neither buys class nor precludes one from committing stupid, senseless (and this tough economy, insensitive) acts of excessive tackiness and expensive attention whoring.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:27PM (#33963150)

    The biggest drawback I can see to having a home built out of aircraft aluminum is the corrosion issue. Contrary to what many people think aluminum does corrode. It is not as active a metal as steel, but it DOES corrode.

    If you take aluminum and fasten it to other structures with dissimilar metals you are liable to have a major corrosion problem on your hands. I'm thinking Malibu would have a more electrolytic atmosphere (being near the ocean) and so the problem would be compounded. Perhaps some sort of anodic protection could be put in place during construction.

    Anyway, I'm just wondering if anyone is thinking about the potential corrosion problem.

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