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The Remarkable Newspaper House: A Century-Long Experiment in Sustainable Architecture – ShutterBulky
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Remarkable Newspaper House

The Remarkable Newspaper House: A Century-Long Experiment in Sustainable Architecture

by Peter Barnes

A house made of newspapers, in which it was possible to live for 100 years

In the 1920s, an innovative American architect named Ellis Stenman embarked on an extraordinary project – building a house entirely from old newspapers. Little did he know that his unconventional experiment would stand the test of time, becoming a unique landmark that still captivates tourists today.

Remarkable Newspaper House

The Birth of an Idea: Sustainable Living in the 1920s

Ellis Stenman’s vision was born out of a desire to explore newspapers as an insulating material. The 1920s marked a time when experimentation with unconventional construction materials was on the rise. Stenman, fueled by curiosity, chose old newspapers for their lightweight and durable properties.

Newspaper Construction: A Testament to Innovation

Remarkable Newspaper House

Stenman meticulously folded layers of newspapers into tubes, treating them with a specially crafted paste made from water, flour, and apple peel. The result was a structure as robust as wood but significantly lighter, showcasing Stenman’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.

Beyond Walls: Furniture and Décor from Recycled Newsprint

As Stenman delved deeper into his project, he expanded beyond the house’s walls, crafting furniture, tables, shelves, wardrobes, armchairs, sofas, chairs, and even a bed from recycled newspapers. The meticulous varnishing process ensured that each piece retained its structural integrity.

Preserving History: The Newspaper House as a Living Museum

Remarkable Newspaper House

Today, Ellis Stenman’s great-granddaughter, Edna Stenman, has transformed the house into a living museum. Tourists flock to witness this architectural marvel, still adorned with Stenman’s newspaper-made creations. The antique clock and piano, both ingeniously constructed from recycled newspapers, add to the house’s allure.

Enduring the Elements: A Surprising Century-Long Lifespan

Contrary to expectations, the newspaper house has defied the odds, enduring almost a century of harsh weather conditions. Stenman himself doubted its resilience to winter cold and moisture, but the paper proved stronger than wood. Edna Stenman speculates on her great-grandfather’s decision not to clapboard the exterior, a choice that contributed to the house’s longevity.

Remarkable Newspaper House

Innovative Adhesives: Stenman’s Flour, Water, and Apple Peel Paste

A key to the success of Stenman’s experiment was the glue he developed using common ingredients like flour and water, enhanced with sticky substances from apple peel. This unique adhesive played a crucial role in binding the newspaper layers, creating a solid and enduring structure.

A Unique Fireplace and Other Architectural Marvels

While most of the house is constructed from newspapers, Stenman incorporated traditional bricks for the fireplace. This clever choice allowed the fireplace to withstand regular use and become a functional focal point within the unconventional dwelling.

The Legacy of 100,000 Newspapers: A Modern Architectural Influence?

Estimates suggest that over 100,000 newspapers were used in the construction of the house. Stenman’s experiment raises intriguing questions about the potential influence on modern architectural practices and sustainability efforts.

In conclusion, Ellis Stenman’s newspaper house stands as a testament to creativity, innovation, and sustainability. As tourists continue to be drawn to this living museum, the century-long experiment sparks inspiration for future architectural endeavours and sustainable living solutions.


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