This is the house that Nick built – out of junk

2011-04-02 17:02

 No bank loans were needed to finance the classy, 100% green, 18m³ building in David ­Daniels’s sandy Khayelitsha backyard on the Cape Flats.

It was designed and constructed according to the dictates of the architecture of junk, which favours the use of rubbish as building material.

It’s cosy and warm, bragged Daniels. “You don’t even need a blanket to sleep. And it is cool during the day.”

Into the walls of his futuristic green home went 1 800 glass bottles, 2?500 tins, 800 cardboard boxes, 40m³ earth, 420 tyres and 1 000 roof tiles.

The old tyres were turned into bricks by filling them with rubbish and earth and compacting the concoction. They were then dry-stacked in alternating courses, covered with chicken wire and plastered.

How did his girlfriend, Vulela, react to the prospect of living in a house made of junk?

No problem, said Daniels. “She was even more excited than me.”

The interior of the tyre house boasts a television set, a sleeping couch, sofas, table and two chairs.

Living in the tyre house, said Daniels, was “nice and cool”.

South Africa discarded 12 million old tyres a year, said Etienne Human, CEO of the SA Tyre Recycling Process Company.

The country was drowning in old tyres and they constituted serious environmental and health hazards, he said.

That figure inspired architect Nick Ralphs to design the tyre building in Khayelitsha.

He regards old tyres as an ­excellent free source of building materials for houses for people.

“No, I am not the inventor of the technology,” said Ralphs.

“Other countries have been using it for years.”

He discovered the methods of the American originator of tyre buildings on the internet and decided to experiment.

The “huge potential” of building with junk, he said, included creating job opportunities, cleaning up the environment and providing homes for the homeless.

Old tyres, said Ralphs, would soon lose their reputation as useless junk. They will be “in ­demand just like new tyres”.

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