Dan Phillips's Amazing Houses Made of Upcycled Materials

Texas-based designer and builder Dan Phillips builds extraordinary low-cost homes out of reclaimed materials. In his witty and insightful talk from TEDxHouston, he showcases a dozen of his remarkable creations – a testament to the power of creative problem-solving over material restrictions.


Together with his wife Marsha, Phillips founded Phoenix Commotion – an innovative construction company whose mission is to salvage landfill waste and turn it into sustainable, affordable, energy-efficient, one-of-a-kind houses for single mothers, artists and low-income families – in short, a brilliant plan. And as if the concept wasn't ingenious enough already, Phoenix Commotion also has an educational compnonet – they run an apprenticeship program, teaching local youth and volunteers sustainable building skills and creative construction.

Houses are built in collaboration with their eventual owners, allowing them to contribute not only sweat equity but also to apply their own unique creative vision to the space they'll soon call home.

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.

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