A unique residence built from the wings of a Boeing 747 airplane, the 747 Wing House epitomizes the concept of 'radical reuse,' showcasing the ways in which prefabricated materials can be repurposed on a large scale, and is an example of how doing so can be surprisingly economical and significantly less wasteful than traditional construction methods.
This project exists on a 55-acre property in the remote hills of Malibu with unique topography and panoramic views looking out to a nearby mountain range, a valley, and the Pacific Ocean with islands in the distance. The site was previously owned and developed by the eccentric designer Tony Duquette who developed over 21 unique structures incorporating found objects from all over the world. In 1995, the Malibu fire destroyed all but a few steel “Pagoda”-like structures. When I first visited the site I was struck by the fantastic views but also the creativity by which Duquette appropriated found objects and made them look as if they were originally crafted like traditional indigenous structures.
In searching for inspiration, I imagined a roof structure that would allow for a un-obstructed view of the mountain range and distant views. The client, a woman who co-owns a Mercedes car dealership, requested curvilinear/feminine shapes for the building. The progenitor of the building’s form was envisioned as a floating curved roof. It soon became apparent, that in fact, an airplane wing itself could work. In researching airplane wings and superimposing different airplane wing types on the site to scale, the wing of a 747, at over 2,500 sq. ft., became an ideal configuration to maximize the views and provide a self supporting roof with minimal additional structural support needed.
By incorporating many of the previous pads and retaining walls we sought to minimize significant grading and subsequent impacts to the existing topography and landscape. The wing structures are conceived to be positioned to float on top of simple concrete, shot-crete, and rammed-earth walls that are cut into the hillsides. The floating roofs will derive simple support from steel brace frames, which will attach to strategic mounting points on the wing where the engines were previously mounted. Frameless, structural self-supporting glass will create the enclosure from the concrete slab on grade into the wing as roof.
The scale of a 747 aircraft is enormous - over 230 feet long, 195 feet wide and 63 feet tall with over 17,000 cubic feet of cargo area alone and represents a tremendous amount of material for a very economical price of less than $50,000 dollars.