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Airplane Fuselage Library
Sarah Rich, 20 Apr 06

jalisco0.jpg Our friend and ally, Geoff Manaugh, recently alerted us to a remarkable project by LOT-EK, an urban architecture and design firm (though this description does little to capture the dynamism of their work) that stands with one foot hanging over the cutting edge.

Now that everyone and their mother has designed a shelter using cargo containers, LOT-EK has moved on and taken up a new architecural material: airplane fuselages! In constructing a new library in Guadalajara, the firm will incorporate several hundred discarded fuselages from Boeing 727 and 737's.

The fuselage is the only part of a decommissioned airplane that cannot be effectively recycled. The cost of its demolition exceeds the profit of aluminum resale. A huge amount of fuselages lays in the deserts of the western states. Boeing 727 and 737 are historically the most sold commercial planes and therefore the most common in these graveyards. They are sold at very low prices completely stripped and in great structural conditions.

More info and super-futuristic CAD images at Noticias Arquitectura

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Comments

Looks interesting, but my first question is: how to navigate across fuselages?
(Not insurmountable, but not obvious from the images)


Posted by: Tony Fisk on 20 Apr 06

Wow, sorry to be a stick in the mud, but this is is appalling. It looks like it's made out of the element Buttuglium. It would create spaces really harmful to people's psyches. I can't imagine a less thermally-efficient building skin than plate glass and thin-shell aluminum. Imagine this thing in an earthquake. The shape is guaranteed to leak, to require enormous maintenance, and heaps of energy to run. The acoustics would suck. Interior fitout would be a nightmare. If someone were sponsoring a Design Competition in Building Failure, I might enter something like this.


Posted by: David Foley on 21 Apr 06

Second David's objection; 727 / 737 fuselage is a horrible template for a building. Narrow, cramped, just getting around would be awful.

Interestingly enough, the image bears a striking resemblence to a rocket launcher - MLRS or the 'Screaming Mimi' from WW II.


Posted by: Brian on 21 Apr 06

Well I'm glad this inspired such passionate criticism! The thermal efficiency and earthquake arguments seem quite sound to me, but I would recommend taking a look at the LOT-EK website and seeing a bit more about what they do. From what I can tell, they aren't "greenwashing" an unsustainable approach...they have some intriguing projects and philosophies, and might have more to say on the areas of concern you expressed. As for whether or not it would be fun to be inside of a cylindrical metal container while visiting the library, that might be a matter of taste. I like the idea. But maybe not if I was the librarian.


Posted by: Sarah on 21 Apr 06

It seems to me that the fuselages are simply the building material - the fact that they contain a volume of air as opposed to being solid (similar to conventional building materials i.e. wood) allow for interesting uses of the walls. From the diagrams, it looks like all library functions take place in large-ish open spaces, and not within the confining cylinders. Also, the pictures at the LOK-ET website make it seem much more attractive than I otherwise thought. I like it that they integrate PVs too.


Posted by: Jonathan on 21 Apr 06

I find the entire idea glorious in the most lizard-brain way. Turn them upside down for instant skyscraper! Twist them to make giant human habitrail! Perfect for pressurized living!

Sustainable, long-term housing is for when you're not building your home out of the giant offal of your future-society.

'It would create spaces really harmful to people's psyches. ' - speak for yourself, brother!


Posted by: Ben Hunt on 21 Apr 06

Wow, I don't know why you are so down on these. I mean-sure, they are a bit cold, but perhaps they could be painted or something?? It seems like it's better that we find a use for them, even if they aren't the most beautiful things ever! Better than laying in the desert!


Posted by: fantasy fan on 21 Apr 06

Well, as Wintermane said, "Somebody people really need to be smacked with a rolled up newspaper", and I guess that someone is me. My comments were pretty lame, not very constructive, and I'd like to apologize.

If I could rewind the tape, and try again, I'd say this. Kudos to the architects for trying an innovative approach, but I have a lot of concerns about the result. Recycling intact airplane fuselages into a building is a clever idea, but not particularly sustainable or world-changing. The fabrication of a building deserves environmental care, such as recycled materials, but a building's life cycle dwarfs its initial impact. Seen that way, this building looks like trouble. It's shell is thermally inefficient, and will require a lot of energy to cool, heat and ventilate. The structural system, a series of stacked tubes, is difficult and expensive to engineer in earthquake country. A skin made of stacked tubes is inherently difficult to make leak-proof, requiring a lot of time and effort for maintenance. If the skin leaks, the interior will get wet, and it will support mold growth. That's bad for people. So is an environment of standardized, extremely-difficult-to-modify components - adaptability suffers. In short, it will be very energy and reource intensive for this building to


Posted by:
David Foley on 23 Apr 06

Well, as Wintermane said, "Somebody people really need to be smacked with a rolled up newspaper", and I guess that someone is me. My comments were pretty lame, not very constructive, and I'd like to apologize.

If I could rewind the tape, and try again, I'd say this. Kudos to the architects for trying an innovative approach, but I have a lot of concerns about the result. Recycling intact airplane fuselages into a building is a clever idea, but not particularly sustainable or world-changing. The fabrication of a building deserves environmental care, such as recycled materials, but a building's life cycle dwarfs its initial impact. Seen that way, this building looks like trouble. It's shell is thermally inefficient, and will require a lot of energy to cool, heat and ventilate. The structural system, a series of stacked tubes, is difficult and expensive to engineer in earthquake country. A skin made of stacked tubes is inherently difficult to make leak-proof, requiring a lot of time and effort for maintenance. If the skin leaks, the interior will get wet, and it will support mold growth. That's bad for people. So is an environment of standardized, extremely-difficult-to-modify components - adaptability suffers. In short, it will be very energy and reource intensive for this building to learn.


Posted by: David Foley on 23 Apr 06



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