James May's Lego abode may be shaping up to be spectacular, but he's far from the first person to build a house out of something novel. Here are ten more amazing homes with, shall we say, unorthodox constituents.
A cave: Built in Missouri in place of an old concert venue (which was built in place of a presumably much older geographical feature), this 1580 square metre cave dwelling has three bedrooms and a surprising market price of about $US300,000. Upsides: Great noise insulation, instant villain cred. Downsides: Difficult to wire for electricity, still prone to bunker busters
A 727: A standalone suite in the Hotel Costa Verde in Costa Rica, this repurposed 727 is quite possibly the most comfortably furnished commercial jet in the world. Upsides: A fuselage makes for an oddly nice party pad Downsides: It's still high enough off the ground to kill you in the event of a crash
Cardboard: Designed by a small Australian design firm, this plastic-coated modular cardboard house is said to run about $US35,000 in a kit, though it's not clear that any have ever been shipped. At any rate, cardboard house. Upsides: It's cheap for its size, and has a neat Conestoga-wagon-esque aesthetic. Downsides: There are certain connotations that come with living in a cardboard box. I'm not saying they're fair!
Paper: Speaking of which, I dubbed this more subtle paper house the "World's Swankiest Hobo Pad" back in January—a title I think it still holds. This one, called the Universal World House, is just $US5000, and made from recycled pulp materials. Upsides: Built-in animal slaughtering facilities, with floor drain Downsides: Gets a little crowded when filled to its 8-person capacity.
Shipping containers: This one's been done a few times, but the undisputed king of shipping container architecture has to be Adam Kalkin, whose massive aluminium container house is pictured at left. He's designed quite a few more, ranging from $US50,000 to $US2 million in cost. Upsides: They may be made from junk, but they're invariably awesome-looking. Downsides: You could be mistaken for a pallet of Ikea furniture while you sleep, and shipped.
Glass Bottles: Building homes out of concrete, mud and bottles isn't some kind of architectural experiment—this is a bona fide technique. Tom Kelly's bottle house in Ryolite, Nevada was constructed from 51,000 glass bottles all the way back in 1920. Upsides: Extremely easy to gather materials for, and the air in the bottles is a great insulator Downsides: It's a little hard on the eyes. OK, a lot hard on the eyes.
Plastic bottles: It's like the last one, except more eco-conscious/grosser. This one was devised by a Serbian Math professor, partly as a home, and partly as an environmental statement. Upsides: It's good for Mother Earth, or whatever Downsides: Less classy than glass bottles
Glass: Granted, the substructure on this thing is made of metal and wood, but the walls? All glass. Upsides: Beautiful, luxurious, and designed by famous architect Philip Johnson Downsides: You'll have to cut down on naked activities.
Tyres: Another surprisingly common construction technique, building with tyres actually makes a lot of sense: They stack well, they're expensive to recycle, and they offer tons of room for stuffing with insulating materials. Upsides: Free, dead-simple construction process Downsides: Could violate council zoning regulations
Legos: This one's still under construction, but with the loving support of the entire internet behind it, not to mention James May, it will one day be glorious. Upsides: Unparalleled dream fulfilment Downsides: Anyone who was ever a child could rob you without leaving a trace.