Gallery: Modern Dutch House Built From Salvaged Billboards and Umbrella...

Photo by Mark Seleen for Dwell

A first glance this may appear to be just another nice-looking modern home — until you realize that it is constructed almost entirely from salvaged materials sourced within a nine mile radius of the building site. Dwell’s recent profile of this Dutch home by 2012architects explores the uncommon lengths that the project undertook to make a refined architectural statement with discarded materials. The architects claim 60% of the exterior and nearly 90% of the interior is salvaged through a process they dub recyclicity — read on to find out how they did it.

Unlike most projects that start with a design, Villa Welpeloo started with a heap of scrap materials sourced locally at factories and warehouses. The team also used Google Earth to find abandoned buildings and lots near the building plot in Enschede, The Netherlands that may contain useful materials. As a result, the home’s framing comes courtesy of steel taken from abandoned machinery in a textile mill. The exterior is clad with boards salvaged from 600 cable reels that were first heat-treated by a process called Plato to weatherize them. The cladding’s clean lines do not betray the humble origins of these materials.

Inside is a treasure trove of interesting reuse — advertising signs are transformed into cabinets that reveal their origin when a drawer is opened. The architects asked for people in the town to drop off their broken umbrellas, whose spokes were transformed into low-voltage lighting. The design was careful not to give away all of its material origin — instead it take a classic modernist approach and features simple refined spaces with delicate touches throughout. Lots of daylight, white spaces with built-ins, and walkout decks make the house very livable. Head over to Dwell for more photos and info, and check out the architect’s slide show, which has a wealth of images of the house and the materials used to make it.


Reusing building materials significantly reduces landfill waste and pressure on natural resources. Novel and dynamic designs often result from incorporating salvaged materials into a building — they add personality.

+ 2012architects

Via Dwell

Photos by Mark Seleen


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  1. Andrew Michler February 4, 2011 at 12:45 am


    I would recommend contacting the architects directly about the material science of the house. They have great website that is full of information and projects based on re-purposing materials. I do not see the project having any better of a deconstruct profile than many other houses. Building to deconstruct and be reabsorbed into the materials pool is only recently becoming a design consideration for projects as a whole- most of what I have seen is on the individual product basis like Interface Carpet or Cradle to Cradle. You project sound interesting so please keep us up to date with your findings.

  2. the real costs February 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing the news about this unique house. No doubt that a house can’t get any greener as far as the materials used, but do you know if the design used life-cycle principles to minimize environmental impact for the full life of the house, or who we could speak to find that out?

    We’ve been looking for candidates of sustainable building to highlight that consider long-term economic and environmental impact in the selection of materials and design, consistent with research recently released from MIT. If this house qualifies, we would like to showcase it as a real-world example of life-cycle principles at work.

    Laura Braden

  3. Mary Ann February 1, 2011 at 9:29 am

    My brothers built a 3-level tree house when we were growing up, made with wood from electrical spools as shown in your house. They used the round part for siding, and one for the first “floor” up into the tree house. It is a favorite memory. Our dad bought 100 excess spools from electrical contractor for our play and fun.

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