Monday, September 11, 2006

Ultimate Extreme Home Makeover - Home Built Out Of Trash For National Geographic Channel

National Geographic Channel′s Ultimate Extreme Home Makeover: Building A House Entirely Out Of Trash And Salvage

The Scrap House Takes "Green" Design to the Next Level as Architects, Structural Engineers and Scrap Artists Construct a New House in 30 Days with Junkyard Materials

Americans build 24 million new homes each year - generating around 100 billion pounds of trash. Additionally, 200,000 buildings a year get torn down in the United States, sending building materials, furniture and appliances into local dumps every day. This September, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) puts this waste to the ultimate test: Is it possible to build and furnish a new house out of garbage in just four weeks? And not just any house, but one that is sturdy, spacious and stylish?

Premiering on September 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, The Scrap House takes "green" building to the next level. A team of architects, structural engineers and scrap artists in San Francisco accepts a nearly impossible challenge: in only one month, turn a few tons of trash into an architectural marvel. Along the way, the team must fight to overcome extraordinary problems: on-site confusion, staffing shortages, a lack of materials, internal bickering and that ominous completion deadline. But failure is ultimately not an option.

The team devises a very ambitious and bold design - a spacious modern house of 1,000 square feet with 21-foot-high ceilings. Building a house of this size usually requires months of planning, but this team has only four weeks from start to finish to get the job done. The stakes are high, especially in earthquake territory such as San Francisco, with some of the strictest building codes in the world.

But the complicated design of the house and the structural engineering of the build are only the first of many challenges. Now they need to find the raw materials to actually erect Scrap House, beginning with massive amounts of material for the building′s frame. Normally, houses are framed with two-by-fours, but long pieces of wood are not turning up, and the team is forced to find an alternative. Combining available resources with creativity, they splice metal studs found in junkyards into the necessary beams.

The Scrap House documents each trudging step the team takes to achieve its seemingly impossible goal. With 36 painted shower doors used on the front and side walls, over a hundred street signs used as giant metal shingles and warehouse demolition steel used for support, Scrap House is transformed from a two-dimensional concept to a three-dimensional building.

As the outside of Scrap House comes together, the architects turn their focus to the interior. A powerful design concept continues to evolve. Using everyday items in a random orientation, new textures and patterns emerge. They′ll punch squares out of scrap leather and make a patterned floor. Computer keyboards used like tiles create a textured wall. Solid-core doors will turn into a beautiful hardwood floor. And thousands of old phone books are used as insulation and decor.

With just days until the deadline, unresolved issues reach a boiling point. Only a few hours remain until the home opening, and the sleep-deprived, stressed team is anxiously hoping that the day′s dump provides them with the materials to fill in the remaining gaps. Against all odds, the team finishes in time, and over the next five days thousands of people visit the Scrap House.

"The Scrap House illustrates the possibilities - as well as the challenges - of green building, recycling and reuse," comments John Peterson, who bravely accepted the challenge of designing the project with his organization, Public Architecture. "The reason why I want[ed] to do Scrap House is one, it [was] an outrageous challenge. And two, this is an interesting time in the world and we have an opportunity to create a project that actually might have meaning for people."

In addition to John Peterson, principal architect of Public Architecture, other experts featured include John Pollard, general contractor and president of SF Garage, Laurence Kornfield, chief building inspector for the city and county of San Francisco, and Patrick Buscovich, structural engineer.