Timothy Hursley - http:www.timothyhursley.com

72,000 carpet tiles make home sweet home in Alabama

Posted on 11 June 2015.

At Mason's Bend in the United States, a resourceful approach means Lucy can live in a real home - not made with cardboard or wood, or even brick, but carpet tiles!

Lucy’s home is also bioclimatic. It makes use of the sun for light, cooling and heating to limit energy consumption.

A strange house now stands in Mason's Bend on the banks of the Black Warrior River in Alabama. It’s shape is surprising: a single-story living space, a screened-in porch, and a unique but simple tower that doubles as a master bedroom upstairs and tornado shelter/family room downstairs. It looks as if a paper garland is being unfolded. The house draws the eye with its striped pattern in random colors. It particularly stands out in Alabama where the rural architecture mostly uses wood. It belongs to Lucy Harris, who previously lived in a makeshift shanty house with her family. But it has another peculiarity. No less than 72,000 worn carpet tiles were used to build the cheerful facade.

Carpet from office buildings

The Rural Studio, founded by Samuel Mockbee, is behind this unusual construction. In Lucy’s town architecture students work on participatory construction projects. So one day, visiting the Interface warehouses - the Ronald McDonald of carpet tiles - a group of students found thousands of stored carpet tiles that had been removed from office buildings. They decided to give these abandoned materials a second lease of life by re-using them - the best way of helping to reduce waste. Beforehand it took the assistance of engineers to carry out a whole battery of fire, biological attack, strength, non-toxicity and water tightness tests. Having passed with flying colors, in five weeks the 72,000 carpet tiles were assembled to become the facade of Lucy’s house. Since it was founded in 1993, the Rural Studio has built more than 80 houses and public buildings in poor rural communities in Alabama, and also leads thinking on environmental responsibility and upcycling.