Bariloche-based designer Manuel Rapoport has built himself a stunning studio house clad in used tomato can tiles in the midst of Patagonia’s dense wilderness. The shiny house was built with tins leftover from local bars and restaurants, which are preserved with a protective coat of varnish every 6 years. “Manu”, the designer-maker, has always been interested in recycling and the use of readily available resources – he says “I don’t need to use titanium to have my very own Guggenheim, I can use tomato tins.”

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Manu probably got his love for nature and green building practices from his dad, a very respected Argentine ecologist who has written books and white papers on foraging for wild weeds. When he set out to build a studio and house for his children, the designer created hundreds of metallic tomato tin tiles using a simple folding technique he developed with the help of a blacksmith friend. A total of 700 tomato tins covered the house, acting as a protective shield against the wind and snow. Over time they will develop a patina of rust and blend in with their surroundings. Glass whiskey bottles were also recycled into small square windows to let the light in while insulating the house during long Patagonian winters.

Inhabitat spoke with the designer, and he was keen to spread his message on social design and house building through recycling:

“This is not for teaching poverty-stricken people how to make their houses with scrap, they do not want poor looking houses, so they work very hard to afford the cheapest most standard materials to build their own houses. The middle classes are the ones that should be experimenting with this kind of problem solving. Because they can inspire and encourage those people”. He continued, “The government should be the first [entity] interested in these kind of practices, they should transmit simple DIY ideas for people to adopt them and be more self-sustaining”.

Take a look at the eco-design objects that Manuel Rapoport creates from local materials and processes, in partnership with business partner Martín Sabattini at Designo Patagonia.

+ Designo Patagonia

Photos © Manuel Rapoport