I've always had a fascination with airplanes. Watching jets take off and land has always inspired awe. And I'm still perplexed at how the laws of physics allow these multi-ton metal machines to cruise through the air. Simply put, there's just something cool about jets.
It's not often you see a 747 from up close, so I was especially excited to visit the Wing House. And Not only is Francie Rehwald's cutting-edge home a testament to the developing world of repurposed building, but it's set high in the beautiful Hills of Malibu, just 30 miles north of Los Angeles. Covering this story would practically be a vacation!
One of the first things you notice driving onto Ms. Rehwald's 55-acre property is the extensive use of recycling. The grounds are landscaped with native flowers and existing decorative pieces that pay homage to her efforts to live green. Walkways are made from the foundation of the house that used to stand on the site. Lamps perch atop reused streetlights. So it's no surprise that when the opportunity came to build much of her home from the leftover bits of a passenger airplane, Ms. Rehwald was game.
As Apple laptop designs have shown us, aluminum can be a beautiful material when it's not in soft-drink can form. And it's definitely on stunning display at the Wing House. The 747's arcing wings were designed with function in mind, but their forms are breathtaking up close. Light catches their curves and reflects beautifully. The contrast between the aluminum and the surrounding nature is striking. This house serves as both a testament to the power of aesthetic design and the growing field of repurposed construction.
Recycling is obviously a buzzword we've been hearing about for decades. But repurposing is recycling on a big scale — reusing existing materials in a new and sustainable way. Instead of being broken down into pieces that would become soft drink cans, in this case the entire wing was reused — basically, as is. Architect David Hertz told us that with the Wing House, repurposing gave them greener transportation methods and tremendous savings in both material costs and time. What's not to love?
Of course, not everyone wants to live in a house made out of old airplanes (present company excluded). But used shipping containers, existing concrete walls and even retired train cars are all ripe for conversion. It's a practice that has tremendous potential for the future of construction. So if that means more homes out there like the Wing House, this airplane fan is absolutely on board.
Video produced by Lori Parker and Will Lerner. Production by Mario Framingheddu, Jeremy Heyward, Beau Hodges. Editor: Nolan Cooper. Sound editor: John Adams. Graphics by Todd Tanner, Matt McDonald and Howard Kim for Yahoo! Studios. Video provided by Boeing Commercial Airlines. Pictures provided by David Hertz, The Phoenix Commotion, Leger Wanaselja.