Around the world, builders, artists and communities at large are coming up with innovative ways to turn recycled materials into usable works of art. Here are five places we’d like to visit—that win points both for creativity and content consciousness.
1. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens—designed as a mosaic labyrinth—take observers inside artist Isaiah Zagar’s mind. The mosaics are made with donated, used items from the community and his own hand-made tiles. They are whimsical, colorful and provide perfect strolling visuals. Zagar began Magic Gardens in a vacant lot near his studio and over 14 years added tunnels and grottos, all sculpted and covered in mosaics, across 3,000 square feet. Now, it’s a permanent art institution, guides and all.
2. Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort, Death Valley, California
Not only are the views of Death Valley National Park—complete with shifting layers of sand and shadows—incredible, but Furnace Creek is home to the largest solar array in the tourism industry—5,740 solar panels producing 1 megawatt of electricity spread across a four-acre rectangle.
Designed by Tom Chudleigh, a Canadian carpenter, Free Spirit Spheres are globes that are suspended between multiple trees and accessed via a spiral staircase. Made of wood or fiberglass and resembling boats in design style, the spheres have small kitchens, sinks and a built-in bed and provide the magical experience of literally hanging among the branches and stars at night.
Located in the coastal town of Stavoren in the Netherlands, this unusual hotel offers visitors a comfy stay in a wine barrel. Certain hotel guests can sleep inside repurposed wine casks—casks that once held nearly 4,000 gallons of wine each.
5. West MacDonnell National Park Bike Path, Australia
At West MacDonnell National Park in Australia, they’ve used old ink cartridges to make a bike path connecting Alice Springs and Simpsons Gap. The ink cartridges are both more affordable and projected to last longer than wood—while saving countless cartridges from landfills.