Top 10 Upcycled Projects

Second hand windows and wood were bought on a website to construct a cafe in Amsterdam, Photo Jeroen Musch.

Used materials and objects are piling up in recycling centers and landfills every single day. The following ten architecture and design projects have realised their full potential, sparing them from what seemed to be the inevitable. It may be impossible to look at brown paper lunch bags and used roof tiles the same way.

Noorderparkbar by Overtreders W and Bureau SLA

Second-hand windows and wood were found and purchased on marktplaats.nl, a Dutch Ebay-style website, to build the entire structure of a park café in Amsterdam Noord. Due to the collected nature of the project by Overtreders W and Bureau SLA, a simultaneous design and construction process was used as each new material arrived.

OWEN SHOP by Tacklebox

Brown paper lunch bags were once used to contain lunch elements, but Tacklebox showed us that 25,000 of them can beautifully contain the retail interior of OWEN in New York City. The collective texture of the opened bags beautifully contrasts the opposing exposed brick wall as well as contemporary displays of colourful clothes.

Recycling Sunday

There’s nothing like finding a greater purpose for garbage bags destined for landfills. Warsaw used them to teach its citizens about the power of recycling by using 1000 filled bags for a temporary installation conceived by Luzinterruptus. The bags were illuminated in the recycling colour code and suspended above a plaza for 24 hours.

SOL Grotto by Rael San Fratello Architects

Next time there are 1368 glass tubes lying around without a purpose, use them to form a unique wall. Implemented in a temporary installation at the Botanical Garden in Berkeley, natural daylight filtered through the transparent tubes, creating a soft illumination inside of a cabin as well as transmitting sounds.

Fly House by Espai Fly

Designers of Espai Fly converted three shipping containers into a rooftop hotel room in Palma de Mallorca. The budget-friendly containers were selected for the additional benefits of quick construction and future mobility.

Marcello’s House by Ctrl+Z and NoSoloPaja


Leftover from industry in the encompassing areas of Seville and Massanes Spain, conventional wood pallets were disassembled and used to construct the structural frame for a residence. Assembled during a workshop with the help of local residents, the geodesic home took only one week to complete.

Rising Moon by Daydreamers Design

Polycarbonate bottles found on office water coolers around the world enclosed a domed pavilion by Daydreamers Design for Hong Kong’s Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Thousands of containers were inserted into the hemispheric steel structure and emitted a glowing, blue to violet hue.

Kawara Bench by Tsuyoshi Hayashi


Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Tsuyoshi Hayashi realised the gently curved profile of Japanese roofing tiles could offer ergonomic benefits as a chair seat. The glazed elements proved to be both ideal for comfort and beautiful as a stool component while minimizing construction waste.

Cardboard Bike by Izhar Gafni

Mechanical engineer Izhar Gafni assembled a bicycle frame as well as its two wheels from cardboard. Costing between 9 and 12 USD, the bike can sustain 220 kilos of weight thanks to an origami technique which triples the strength of the material with a single fold. A special paint waterproofs the paper-based vehicle.

Wasbar by Pinkeye Crossover Design Studio

Dresser drawers found their second life as appropriate wall decor for Wasbar, a hybrid laundromat and bar in Ghent, Belgium. Pinkeye Crossover Design Studio completed the eclectic atmosphere with vintage chairs amidst a retro palette of light blue, green and salmon pink.

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