Recycling as a concept has been around for quite some time, mostly at a micro-scale where individuals reduce waste and preserve energy. In architecture, recycled and reused materials are slowly becoming attractive alternatives to conventional building materials. When sourced appropriately, they turn out as a financially resourceful solution! Apart from reducing raw material costs, using recycled materials leads to the establishment of recycling facilities which in turn generates employment for that particular locality. There are recyclable alternatives for most building materials today, bringing about a new artistic vision and expression to a project. Not just timber and plastic, materials like old tires and soda cans are also being used. Here are 15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials:

1. The Zig-Zag House, United States | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: David Coleman

Plastic is one of the most concerning waste which needs to be recycled. The Zig-Zag House strives to achieve just that. The north wall of the house is coated with a recycled bottle-green polycarbonate skin, which casts a greenish glow on the surrounding walls at night. The polycarbonate wall also allows light into the center of the building, which forms the main part of circulation inside. 

Other materials used include stucco siding, a polycarbonate glazing system, aluminum windows, medium density fiberboard, perforated metal railings, and birch cabinets. The house also explores the notion of edges and intersections, enlivening the space and creating a varied spatial environment. This combined with the polycarbonate skin makes the Zig-Zag house a notable project using recycled materials.

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Zig-Zag House_©David Coleman Architecture
15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Zig-Zag House_©David Coleman Architecture

2. Plastic House, Dublin

Architect: Architecture Republic

Another project showcasing the use of polycarbonate is the Plastic House in Dublin. Polycarbonate has been used along with steel as a piece of architectural furniture, spreading like a tree-form, setting up a complex series of interconnected and overlapping spaces. 

Polycarbonate has been introduced in all spaces- kitchen, toilet, storage, sleeping, dressing and study spaces, etc.  

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Plastic House_©Archdaily
15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Use of polycarbonate_©Archdaily

3. L-House, Poland | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: Moomoo Architects

The recycled material featured in the L-House is thermopian, a plastic insulating material. Thermopian is generally used for roofing, however, in this project, it has been used for the entire elevation. It has good thermal and insulation properties with excellent acoustics and can have any required color. 

The design of the L-House is based on traditional Polish houses with the addition of a steep roof on one end of the building.

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials

4. Manav Sadhna, Ahmedabad

Architect: Yatin Pandya

Manav Sadhna is an activity center that also contains a creche. It involves the use of multiple recycled materials, sourced from municipal and domestic waste. Cement-bonded fly ash blocks, recycled glass bottles, recycled plastic bottles filled with cement or fly ash, stabilized soil blocks and vegetable crates are a few of the recycled materials used. 

Filler slabs with broken clay pots and glass bottles have been used. Common areas have been shaded with a canopy made from rags and plastic. Waste has been recycled to use as affordable materials to build aesthetically pleasing spaces.

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Door panel_©
15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Recycled Rags_©

5. House of Mixed Hues, Mumbai | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: S+PS Architects

The House of Mixed Hues, or Collage House, looks at the idea of recycling in several ways. Old doors and windows from demolished houses in the city have been recycled to be used in this project, establishing a theme of nostalgia. This theme is further enhanced through the use of hundred-year-old columns from a dismantled house. 

One of the courtyard walls features cut-waste stone slivers cladding, which was sourced from the ‘waste’ generated in stone cutting yards. The flooring is of old Burma teak rafters and purlins.   

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Collage House_©Pinterest
15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Courtyard Wall_©Pinterest

6. La Fabrique, Switzerland

Architect: Bureau A

Another project featuring recycled materials in the form of recycled windows is the La Fabrique in Switzerland. These windows were sourced from demolition sites and were mounted on an asymmetric timber frame to create the façade and roof. The floor was made using timber boards and chipboards.

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
La Fabrique_©Dezeen

7. Vegan House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Architect: Block Architects

The Vegan House involves the use of recycled materials in the form of window shutters. The shutters are of various colors and are used for the building façade as well as the internal partitions and doors. 

15 architectural projects made out of recycled materials
Vegan House_©
Vegan House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Sheet2
Interior divisions_©

8. Glass Chapel, United States | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: Rural Studio

The Glass Chapel was built for local, low-income communities, using inexpensive and recycled materials due to lack of funds and resources. It features recycled car windows and windshields used in the roof and façade. Demonstrating how industrial waste could become architectural opportunities.

Glass Chapel, United States - Sheet1
Glass Chapel_©
Glass Chapel, United States - Sheet2
Glass Chapel_©Timothy Hursley

9. SOS Children’s Villages Lavezzorio Community Center

Architect: Studio Gang

The SOS Community Center combines foster care services and services for neighborhood families in a single building. It is committed to training foster parents and reuniting siblings. 

Due to budget constraints, the project used concrete aggregate that they recycled from different construction sites around Chicago, giving the façade an appearance of bands.

SOS Children’s Villages Lavezzorio Community Center
SOS Community Center_©Archdaily

10. Wheel Story House, Ghana | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: Sammy Ansah

The Wheel Story House is West Africa’s largest and oldest home made from recycled and reclaimed materials. In place of concrete, Sammy Ansah made use of reclaimed wood along with a collection of scraps like broken coffee cups, discarded electric spools, and stones. 

Many of the walls were made using broken stone pieces, old paving stones, wooden logs, and broken tiles. Roofing and flooring were done using old wooden crates.

Wheel Story House, Ghana
Wheel Story House_©

11. Redondo Beach House, United States | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: DeMaria Design

The Redondo Beach House employs the use of recycled steel shipping containers modified to be mold-proof, fire-proof, termite-proof, and structurally sound. 

Due to a prefabricated assembly system, the use of the shipping containers has led to cost, construction, and time savings along with being environmentally conscious. 

Redondo Beach House, United States - Sheet1
Redondo Beach House_©
Redondo Beach House, United States - Sheet2
Redondo Beach House_©DeMaria Design Associates

12. Keetwonen, Amsterdam

Architect: Tempohousing

Keetwonen is the world’s first and largest student campus built by recycling shipping containers. The complex consists of more than 1000 units, with each unit having its own bathroom, bedroom, and a private balcony. The central area contains a supermarket, making for an ideal residence for students.

Keetwonen, Amsterdam - Sheet1
Keetwonen, Amsterdam - Sheet2

13. Recycled Materials Cottage, Chile

Architect: Juan Luis Martinez Nahuel

The Recycled Materials Cottage uses materials from demolished sites in the surrounding areas. The main façade of the cottage is made from the glazing of an old patio. Eucalyptus and native rauli parquet floors of a demolished house became the main coating. 

Steel pieces used for a temporary exhibition were used as the main structural elements. 

Recycled Materials Cottage, Chile - Sheet1
Recycled Materials Cottage_©
Recycled Materials Cottage, Chile - Sheet2
Structural system_©Archdaily

14. Can Cube, Shanghai, China

Architect: Archi-Union Architects

Who would have guessed soda cans could be recycled and used as a building material? The Can Cube’s façade is a system of aluminum carbonated drink cans enclosed in an aluminum frame. Enclosing the cans in the aluminum frame keeps the system lightweight and easily adjustable by the occupants. 

Can Cube, Shanghai, China
Can Cube_©Archdaily

15. Cook Park Amenities, Sydney, Australia | Recycled Materials Projects

Architect: Fox Johnston

The Cook Park Amenities is a part of the Rockdale Council’s rejuvenation of the Cook Park beachfront. An attempt has been made to clad each built structure with breathable skin, usually recycled materials from the surrounding area. The main structure is built using recycled timber and bricks. 

Cook Park Amenities, Sydney, Australia - Sheet1
Cook Park Amenities_©
Cook Park Amenities, Sydney, Australia - Sheet2
Cook Park Amenities_©

Meghna Patnaik is a third year B.Arch student who has begun to explore her writing potential in architectural journalism. She looks forward to writing, not only to enhance her understanding of architecture, but also because she is passionate about it. She is also an ardent baker.