INTERVIEW: Architect David Hertz on how to build with old planes

by , 08/25/15

747 House, David Hertz, inhabitat interview, upcycled project, boeing 747, recycled materials, david hertz architects

Inhabitat: What has been the most challenging aspect in dealing with the plane? Design, fabrication, transportation, installation or something else?

David: Some of the many challenges in realizing this project were getting the project approved through (17) governmental agencies, closing 5 major freeways and highways in California, flying the wings using a Chinook Helicopter to the site, and even getting information about the airplane from Boeing as to its structure and material properties, which proved difficult due to intellectual and proprietary interest. In the post 9/11 climate, this proved difficult and ultimately led to inquiry from Boeing legal and U.S. Homeland Security to determine if our interests were a threat to National Security. Accordingly, and in the absence of proper data as to material properties etc. we had to perform a lot of onsite evaluations and analysis which we jokingly referred to as “winging it”.

Inhabitat: Considering that you’re using airplane wings for the roof, did you have to perform extensive engineering in order to ensure that the roof wouldn’t just lift off?

David: We did employ aviation experts and aerospace consultants to perform a CFD Computational Fluid Dynamic analysis on the project to verify that no uplift would be created. This is typically done by the installation of small, Vortex generators on the wind top to disturb the flow. We used the engine mounts as the strong points in the wings and connected the wings to tie into the longitudinal wing spars.

Inhabitat: Has anything surprised you about working with the plane to build a house?

David: Understanding the dynamics and structural characteristics and its complexity was humbling.

Inhabitat: Exactly which parts did you use in the construction of the main house?

David: We used the left and right wings in their entirety, less the engine and controls and the 2 horizontal stabilizers from the tail section. Additionally, we also used a piece of the fuselage with the windows as a room divider and the entire front engine cowling as a reflecting pool/fountain and fire element.

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