Tearing down old things to make room for new things is an American tradition. It makes sense in some ways. After all, better building materials mean better buildings, right? Not if you like beautiful old buildings. There is, however, a compromise.
Case in point: This futuristic-looking house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Despite the space age exterior, this 5,300 square-foot family home was actually built in the 19th century. However, from 2010 to 2013, Turin-based architects Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant completely revamped it, stripping away the majority of the aging building materials and replacing them with newer, better stuff. Now, with the exception of a few old beams, it's actually made of plastic.
Why plastic? Well, the translucent panels that coat the exterior actually make the house extremely energy efficient. They're filled with insulation that locks in warm air in the winter and allows cool air to circulate in the summer. The roof is also colored light grey, so sunlight reflects off of it. And that all means that the bills are lower and the environment is happier.
Maybe the better question is: Why not plastic?
The unique design also allows for privacy—which the family wanted—while also allowing the family views of the street. To help, there's a giant aluminum door on rollers that can open or close the façade. There are a couple of skylights to boot.
Inside, there's a lot of mahogany, which plays well with the old wooden beams. Bibliophiles surely drool over the bookshelves which occupy one entire wall of the two-story house thanks to a vaulted ceiling that makes space for a mezzanine. It all feels very light and airy and nice. And the architects didn't even have to kill an old building to do it. [Domus via This Isn't Happiness]