Ethan Kaplan

Creative reuse infuses vintage house with modern spirit

Sunset  – January 23, 2006

“An artful renovation that uses auto parts in unexpected, beautiful, and memorable ways.”
– jury comment

MERIT AWARD (remodel), Leger Wanaselja Architecture, Berkeley
The pair of green station wagon tailgates standing at the top of a stairway is sure to stop traffic. The tailgates, anchored to custom-fabricated bases, function as the railing for the upper-floor living room, but they also capture the wit and spirit of ecologically oriented architecture. Indeed, the jury felt the design explored the theme of recycling in compelling new ways.

This project includes the remodel of a 100-year-old house, which now has business space below two upper-floor living units, and the conversion of an adjacent concrete-block structure into the architects’ office. Located on a busy street in a mixed-use Berkeley neighborhood, it was constructed with innovative salvage, minimal construction waste, and sustainably harvested or recycled materials.

Whimsical but practical recycled elements blend easily with the handsome Victorian architecture. Graceful, curving awnings above exterior doors are salvaged windows from hatchbacks. Colorful truck tailgates become benches and railings, and pop-out rear car windows become display shelves. Discarded road signs cover a bathroom wall, and fragments of recycled glass color a kitchen counter. Pendant lights made from heated and slumped French vinegar bottles light another counter.

ARCHITECT: (510) 848-8901