the Upcycle House’s building materials come from a vast variety of sources. The load bearing base of the home is made out of two prefabricated shipping containers that are insulated on the outside, which helps hide their structural framework. The roof and exterior cladding are made from trapezoidal profile sheets of recycled aluminum soda-cans. The facade panels are made from post-consumer recycled granulated paper that has been pressed and heat treated. The kitchen floor is made from tiled champagne cork remnants, and the bath tiles are made from recycled glass. The walls and floors are clad with OSB panels made out of pressed wood chips taken from various production sites.
In terms of energy efficiency, the tight budget of the project (approx. $175,000) made the structure’s passive properties a top priority. Accordingly, the home’s orientation, temperature zones, natural light optimization, shading and natural ventilation were all strategically implemented.
Due to the vast quantity of recycled materials used in its construction, one might expect the final design of the Upcycle House to look somewhat “shabby chic”. However, the end result is a stylish contemporary design that looks as if it were made with upscale conventional materials. The layout of the home features a large living area connected to a spacious kitchen, four bedrooms, a bathroom, a utility room and a passive cooling chamber. The outdoor space includes a large greenhouse just outside the kitchen and a large south-facing terrace.
The Upcycle House is an affordable single family home that provides a significant reduction in emissions. The owner of Lendager Architects, Anders Lendager, explains the potential impact of the project on future building codes: “We initially thought that a reduction of 65% CO2 was unrealistic, but when we ran the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) on all materials throughout the entire project, it turned out that we had reduced the CO2 emissions associated with construction by 86%, compared to a benchmark house. With that in mind, we are surprised that no one else is working on this. Why is it not included in everything we do as architects? Why is it not included in the building code that a certain percentage of building materials have to be recycled?”