Gallery: Big Dig House: Recycled Residence Reaches Completion

Big Dig House by Single Speed Design

If the walls of the Big Dig House could talk, they’d tell you that it’s comprised of 600,000 lbs of recycled materials that were rescued from the Big Dig highway project in Boston. Inhabitat last reported on the striking modern residence in 2006 when it was still in its planning stages, and it has since come a long way from being a pile of rubble and recycled materials. We may now behold what stands today — an elegant and modern private home in Lexington, MA with an exciting backstory.

At a final cost of $150 per square foot, most of the materials for the Big Dig house were free, minus the expenses to ship the materials to Lexington, MA. Set in an area of Lexington called Six Moon Hill, the finished Big Dig House has joined other modern homes that are well known to the area.

To save time and energy, Single Speed Design, engineers and designers of the Big Dig House, used most of the salvaged materials from the Big Dig in the condition in which they were found. Using the structural materials “as is” equipped the house to take on a much heavier load than standard building materials. As such, the house features an elaborate roof garden above the garage. Slabs of concrete reclaimed from the highway support three feet of soil, and the entire garden is designed to use recycled rainwater.

The house’s exterior is elegantly clad in cedar siding and glass, giving it a clean and modern finishing touch without disguising the exposed steel tubes and beams. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The Big Dig House is a perfect example of the treasure to be found in recycling and reuse.

+ Single Speed Design

+ Big Dig House on Inhabitat


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  1. KiwiTayl November 11, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Based on a PBS documentary story about this house, the steel is heated by radiant heat tubes at the points of penetration. It is claimed that the “thermal bridge” problem is overcome and the heated steel in the structure becomes a heat source, as well.

  2. Tamaresque July 10, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Using the industrial materials has made a house that appears to be too large for human scale and makes for a very impersonal space in the living areas. It looks like an industrial designer’s fantasy!

  3. jeanX July 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    How is the house heated?

  4. ironworker July 7, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I once built a beautiful modern house here in Minnesota, with a W18x76 steel beam running though the facade. Years later, still bothered by this detail, I calculated that this piece of steel is 1000 times more thermally conductive than the nominal R-19 wall it is next to.

    Arguably a beautiful house, but can you say “thermal bridge?”

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