Olivia Chen

Affordable Housing Made of Recycled Materials

by , 09/04/09

The Phoenix Commotion

Imagine building your home exclusively of salvaged materials. No re-mixed concretes or FSC-certified woods. Just metals and woods that have been discarded. That’s exactly the kind of home-building Dan Phillips has set out to do through his low-income housing initiative, The Phoenix Commotion. Out to prove that homes can be sound, affordable, and energy-efficient — even aesthetically interesting, Dan is on a mission to build low-cost homes with salvaged materials sourced from unusual places, ranging from flea markets to auto-salvage yards.

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Dan’s quirky homes are quite possibly a scavenger’s dream. Each home is infused with imaginative combinations and patterns composed of available materials, from a ceiling tiled with old license plates to doors punctuated with colorful bottles. While the use of “trash” materials makes the building method solidly devoted to minimizing environmental impact, Dan Phillips’ reasoning for his unusual choice of materials is also unmistakeably humanitarian. According to his website, The Phoenix Commotion is “committed to people and their communities” — striving to build housing as cost-effectively as possible in order to provide low-income families the opportunity to own their own home.

Dan also possess a rather surprising contentment with building codes. With what seems to be just the slightest skepticism, Dan cites that building “codes are the result of massive research, debate, input, and planning. They represent the minimum for a safe quality of life in America.” His willingness to play nice with others, including engineers, electricians and plumbers, is certainly proof that Dan is a man that places more importance on his mission than his ego. A clearly successful result of his collaboration is his work with city officials to establish a warehouse where product manufacturers can donate their leftover materials to the cause. To incentivize the delivery of the materials, donations are tax-deductible.

Dan’s ambition to build a business that creates homes with an eco- and social- conscience is already admirable, but his work is even more impressive when you consider his ability to provide us with unquestionably eclectic and non-traditionally stunning homes that take nothing less than a very large dose of creativity to dream up.

+ The Phoenix Commotion

Via NYTimes

Photos by Michael Stravato

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4 Comments

  1. alex123 November 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    This is really cool!!!!!
    -Alex

  2. Emerging Ghana Affordab... June 29, 2010 at 1:01 am

    [...] Lisbon-based Blaanc in collaboration with Architect João Caeiro, Emerging Ghana is a plan for an eco-affordable single family house for the emerging middle class of Ghana. The design recently won first place in the international [...]

  3. W Basson March 5, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Amen to Kevin Carson’s comment above! That has exactly been my experience too. ‘Building codes’ and ‘regulatory regimes’ by and large serve to keep Big Business, well …in Big Business.

  4. Kevin Carson September 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I’m also surprised at his relatively mild skepticism toward building codes. There’s a wide range of writers on alternative and vernacular building technologies (like Colin Ward in Talking Houses) who regard building codes as primarily a way of locking in several-decades-old technology and protecting conventional contractors from low-overhead alternative (unconventional modular technologies more amenable to easy DIY building, etc.). Based on my own study, I consider the primary function of all “safety” codes and regulatory regimes to be imposing artificially high overhead levels on production, with initial capital outlays and levels of overhead that can only be serviced by large-batch production, and thereby effectively criminalizing low-overhead, small-batch production in the household and informal sector.

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