Studio 804 Makes Salvage Trendy With Sustainable Homes


Salvaging building materials tends to make one think about reusing vintage fixtures or "upcycling" antique materials. But these days, using salvaged materials is becoming trendy, modern and socially acceptable as people look to reuse existing resources instead of fabricating unnecessary materials.

Studio 804, a design program with the University of Kansas, is showing off just what can be done with reclaimed construction materials. They've designed and created a striking and modern home known as "1330 Brook Street" that is changing people's minds about reclaimed materials and sustainable homes.

It's a sleek 1,300 sq ft home that is a hip mix of steel and glass, showing off a minimalist look inside with an open concept and floor to ceiling windows. The panels for the walls were once intended for tennis center, but never used and some of the wood beams in the walkway were once part of a railway trestle. 

There are more green features to the Brook Street house than just the materials themselves. It boasts a bank of 16 solar panels on the roof for a clean source of electricity, high-efficiency LED lighting fixtures and a range of water-saving plumbing features too. Another energy-saving feature is the steel "screen" that lines the walkway along the southern facade of the home. By creating shade and blocking direct sunlight, there is less need for cooling in the house.

This particular house is just one example of Studio 804's sustainable development projects. They typically do one building each year, often taking over awkward "brownfield" land plots to help revitalize neighborhoods. Old landfill sites, buried gas tank sites and even seasonal floodplains all make for hard-to-utilize land. What better place to show off architecture innovations and open-minded thinking? Even the land itself is being reclaimed from otherwise being wasted.

Inspiration often comes from the WWII-era Lustron housing effort that created thousands of low-cost pre-fab homes for soldiers returning from the war. They were efficient, practical and embody the same attitude that Studio 804 is looking for today.

Sustainable homes must also be affordable if you want to attract the masses. Add in low-maintenance material choices and you've got a home that fits the bill for a mainstream audience. Not all their designs are modern either. In 2016, their home had a more rustic look, clad in shingles made from responsibly-harvested Alaskan cedar.

As the market for used building materials grows, there can be a real shift towards entire sustainable communities that have a much smaller eco-footprint that won't break the bank.

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