747 Wing House by Studio of
Environmental Architecture

| 12 comments

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

The roof of this Malibu house is made from the wings of an aeroplane.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

The suspended wings rest over self-supporting glass walls that front the hillside house, which was designed by American architects Studio of Environmental Architecture.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

Parts of the aeroplane tail shelter the master bedroom, while the fuselage covers a guesthouse, barn and artist’s studio that are each housed in separate buildings.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

The cockpit of the plane creates a roof with a large skylight to a meditation pavilion, located towards the edge of the site.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

At the rear of the house, concrete and rammed earth walls nestle into the hilly landscape.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

The architects had to register the house with the Federal Aviation Authority so that pilots would not mistake it for a crashed jet.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

Other American houses recently featured on Dezeen include one with a twisted cantilever and another beneath the famous Hollywood sign - see all our stories about projects in the USA.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

Photography is by David Hertz, Carson Leh & Laura Doss.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

Here's a description from the architects:


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.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

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.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

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.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

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.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

In researching aircrafts we began to realize that there are hundreds of airplanes that have been retired to sit in the deserts of California and are sold at the price of their principal raw material, aluminum. The idea of utilizing recycled components and appropriating them in creative new ways was certainly consistent with the existing context of the Duquette structures. Additionally, incorporating prefabricated lightweight components off site and delivering them to the remote site via helicopter, although at a cost of $8,000/hr. became realistic after considering the cost of getting traditional labor and material to the site.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

After visiting the planes and verifying with the building department that there is nothing specifically prohibiting the use of an airplane wing as a roof, we began to explore the actual structure of the wings in particular and examined if other components might be used for additional accessory structures on the property. Although, we did find out that we have to register the roof of the house with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) so pilots flying overhead do not mistake it as a downed aircraft.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

As we analyzed the cost, it seemed to make more sense to acquire an entire airplane and to use as many of the components as possible, like the Native American Indians used every part of the buffalo. Therefore, the property is to consist of several structures all made with components and pieces of a Boeing 747-200 aircraft.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

The Main Residence will use both of the main wings as well as the 2 stabilizers from the tail section as a roof for the Master Bedroom. The Art Studio Building will use a 50-foot long section of the upper fuselage as a roof, while the remaining front portion of the fuselage and upper first class cabin deck will be used as the roof of the Guest House. The lower half of the fuselage, which forms the cargo hold, will form the roof of the Animal Barn. A Meditation Pavilion will be made from the entire front of the airplane at 28 feet in diameter and 45 feet tall; the cockpit windows will form a skylight. Several other components are contemplated for use in a sublime manner, which include a fire pit and water element constructed out of the engine cowling.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

The 747 represented the single largest industrial achievement in modern history and its abandonment in the deserts make a statement about the obsolescence and ephemeral nature of our technology and our society. As a structure and engineering achievement, the aircraft encloses a lot of space using the least amount of materials in a very resourceful and efficient manner. The recycling of the 4.5 million parts of this “big aluminum can” is seen as an extreme example of sustainable reuse and appropriation. American consumers and industry throw away enough aluminum in a year to rebuild our entire airplane commercial fleet every three months.

747 Wing House by Studio of Environmental Architecture

Wing house, as a work in progress, has many plans for the implementation of environmental features. The sole fact that an entire 747 is being used to construct a main residence and 6 ancillary structures, is environmentally sustainable in that the material being used is 100% post-consumer waste, and the plane has already been engineered so that additional material and man power are not necessary as they would be if the structure was to be built from the ground up. Solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation will be incorporated as well as high performance heat mirror glazing.

  • Ferdinand Solas

    This never even crossed my mind before. Now I suddenly get the urge to imagine a structure made from components of not just an aircraft but from different machines at my disposal. Maybe people should really take this step of Studio of Environmental Architecture, as a living example (for both clients and architects) of what a thoughtful innovation and environmental preservation creates when religiously applied in the real world, amaze us all (hopefully most of us reading this article). Good job to the creators!

  • dafin

    pure poetry!

  • http://www.davestasiuk.com Dave S.

    Amazing adaptive reuse! Congratulations to the client, architect and construction team on this outstanding project…it's especially great to see that it isn't just a reductive novelty either, but is truly architectural, a beautiful home.

  • JoshuaV

    If it's an airfoil, wouldn't strong winds from the right direction create a great deal of lift on the roof of the house? Very cool otherwise.

    • Dare

      I dont think so, wind speed must be great enough to lift those airfoil. Besides, they put the trailing edge of airfoil forward towards expected wind breeze.

  • Dare

    US sure has so many useful junk. I wish i can order those junk to my country. But then again, it will leave so many carbon footprint just by shipping them :D

    BTW can this used airfoil also b the solution for low-cost-made house? I wonder…

  • ept

    Great way to reuse materials! – Looking out over those panoramic views makes you feel like you could be on a plane. I wonder how a city dwelling could be designed using the same materials. . .

  • James

    This is a weak design project. It fetishizes the wing as an object in the same way container projects did 5 years ago. I had hoped architecture was beyond this. I expect to see this kind of work on Arch Daily, but I expect better from dezeen.

  • Nichole Reber

    Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Or at least if you're going to do something unique, try to put some attractive aesthetics. One of the banalities of life as an architecture writer is reading every one's comments about how gorgeous and fascinating this house is when it clearly is not.

    • http://www.davestasiuk.com Dave S.

      Ironically, the banality of this particular comment is the author's tiresome sense of superiority that's so endemic of discourse among architects and architectural critics. It's certainly one thing to criticize the architecture…but you wasted a few lines there trying to make yourself look smart at the expense of others. It's exactly this type of empty pseudo-intellectual arrogance that puts people off of the design community. By all means, explain further why you think this is poor architecture, because perhaps you have something valuable to say on that front. But please keep your snarky and tiresome cocktail party comments to yourself. You come off as a conceited windbag.

  • http://www.17thandRiggs.com rebecca

    Really beautiful and reassuring that scrap airplanes were repurposed to create this sleek modern space.

  • Wadi

    One of the best ideas I've seen on Dezeen! Local sources, high tech architecture, sustainable and recyccling, new typology of building, good ideas and tasty design in one go- Chapeaux!!