Extreme recycling: Watch a cutting-edge house take wing in the Malibu hills
Kathleen N. Brenzel
1 of 7Photo by Dave Lauridsen
From jet to dream house: Ultimate reuse in Malibu
Home of the future, extreme recycling, or just plain eccentric? We can’t decide. But this house-in-progress, built from a deconstructed 747 jumbo jet, is what we’d like to see more of in the future: Let’s call it industrial-strength prefab.
Click ahead to see how it's coming together, and how you can find a junked plane, too.
2 of 7Photo by Dave Lauridsen
From jet to dream house: The vision
The project required obtaining permits from 17 government agencies, a California Highway Patrol escort for the superoversize load, and a rented helicopter to ferry the wings to the site.
In spite of the challenges, owner Francie Rehwald held to her vision for the hilltop parcel that was once owned by Hollywood set designer Tony Duquette.
Here, stabilizers from the plane's tail section forms a roof over the master suite.
3 of 7Photo by Dave Lauridsen
From jet to dream house: Low profile
Rehwald and architect David Hertz both wanted a long, low profile so the house wouldn’t obstruct any Malibu canyon or mountain views. And Rehwald wanted feminine curves, not angles, for her dream home.
4 of 7Photo by Ron Senso
From jet to dream house: How to find a junked plane
Like hundreds of aging 747s from the U.S. fleet, this one was retired to an “airplane junkyard” in California’s Mojave Desert. Francie Rehwald snapped it up for $35,000, the price of its principal raw material—aluminum—without engines and electrical components.
The jet was 63 feet high, 195 feet wingtip to wingtip, and 230 feet long—about two-thirds the length of a football field. To get it ready for travel, the plane was “filleted” (sliced in half lengthwise, with wings still attached).
Then the plane was cut into sections. The entire 747 had enough strong, lightweight parts to create the main house and six smaller structures, including an art studio, a barn, and a meditation pavilion that uses the cockpit window as a skylight.
This lower half, once a cargo hold, will form the barn's roof.
5 of 7Photo by Ron Senso
From jet to dream house: The parts arrive
Architect Hertz likens the reuse of the plane’s 4.5 million parts to recycling a “big aluminum can.” A 50-foot long section of the upper fuselage will be the roof of an art studio on the property. Another section of the fuselage, along with the upper first-class cabin, will become the guest house roof.
With the plane filleted (sliced in half lengthwise, with wings still attached) then dismantled, specially rigged flatbed trucks hauled the pieces to Camarillo, California.
From there, the 125-foot wings, too long for trucking up winding roads, got dropped in by a Chinook helicopter.
6 of 7Photos by Dave Lauridsen
From jet to dream house: Inside touches
This fuselage section, whose windows once framed views of clouds, will serve as a passthrough from the kitchen to an office (one window will swing open).
How more parts will be used:
One of the engine housings will grace a water feature in the main courtyard.
And a first-class stairway will provide access to a bank of storage cabinets between the library/media room and a guest room.
7 of 7Photo by Dave Lauridsen
From jet to dream house: Inspired design
Hertz's initial sketches suggested the wings of an airplane, so why not use real ones?
This plane's wings cover living and kitchen areas and guest quarters.
Architect David Hertz likens the reuse of the plane's 4.5 million parts to recycling a big aluminum can.