Scraphouse

The ScrapHouse was built exclusively of scrap and salvaged material on Civic Center Plaza adjacent to San Francisco City Hall in conjunction with World Environment Day 2005.

According to the press release

“With walls sheathed with everything from street signs and shower doors to fire hoses and phonebooks, ScrapHouse is a sight to be seen, the ultimate example of architectural recycling, and reuse,” according to architect John Peterson, Founder of Public Architecture, the nonprofit organization that has coordinated the effort.

ScrapHouse was conceived by documentary filmmaker, Anna Fitch, who came in contact with Laurence Kornfield, chief building inspector for the City of San Francisco, who then pitched the idea to Public Architecture. Over the course of just six weeks, an eclectic team of volunteers scoured Bay Area dumps and scrap yards, often discovering unused materials with the price tags still affixed. A group of architects, interior designers, landscape architects, lighting specialists, and metal fabricators gave these materials new life and ScrapHouse its final shape. Based on their design, ScrapHouse has all the amenities of a traditional American home: a kitchen, a bathroom, two bedrooms, a deck, and beautifully landscaped yard. The design is intentionally bold: an L-shaped layout, with a mezzanine-level bedroom, and a roof inverted like the wings of a butterfly.

Still, what is most intriguing about ScrapHouse is the creative use of previously discarded materials—most of which were destined for the landfill. On one wall,

500 old phonebooks, stacked vertically, provide both insulation and texture. Another room’s floor is tiled with leather scraps, leftover from upholstery jobs. For landscaping, day-old flowers from local outlets surround the house in hundreds of tiny vases cut from garden hoses, which protrude from the green grass lawn.

ScrapHouse was only open for four days. In its entirety it’s a bit overwhelming but it is meant to be an exhibition house, demonstrating creative problem solving, rather than a livable house. There are some great ideas and the overall design,

especially the cladding, is irresistible.

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