by , 04/11/06


Constructed with over 600,000lbs of recycled materials, this is the house that Boston’s Big Dig built — or more precisely, a house that engineer, Paul Pedini, built with the design expertise of John Hong from Single Speed Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At a final cost of $150 per square foot, most of the materials for the house were free, minus the expenses to ship the materials (formerly I-93 off-ramps from the heart of the transportation artery through Boston,unofficially known as the “Big Dig”) to Lexington, MA.

The site of the Big Dig was a literal graveyard of materials, and the city was running out of land to store them. The Big Dig house is akin to a prefab system, made from a kit of precomposed parts. A large chunk of recycled steel became the beams and columns which frame the house. The frame and stained concrete floors were completed in just four days.

While the materials may be heavy and industrial, the height of the spaces in the house brings in plenty of daylight and views to the natural surroundings. Hong added several sustainable features beyond the use of recycled materials, including a roof garden that serves as an outdoor patio above the garage, and a rainwater catchment system for irrigation. Looking at the Big Dig house, you’d hardly guess it emerged from the rubble of an old freeway, but the gorgeous final product is a shining example of how to turn gravel into gold.

+ Single Speed Design

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  1. Drea November 6, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    So creative! You said $150 per sq feet, How many sq. ft was it in total?

  2. Inhabitat » Blog ... July 25, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    […] PK Well let’s look at Malcolm Wells‘ vision: Airports that were vegetated and beautiful causeways where we could see growth on highways winding through urban centers with parks over the top. Look at the Big Dig in Boston. The future is now. We’re seeing this new elevation because we are simply out of ground space in the urban environment. So let’s lift all of that vegetation and natural process above the streets and then where we can, incorporate nature and parks and natural systems on the ground plain. […]

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