There are plenty of incredible things that people have built around the world. They range from amazing buildings, awe-inspiring artwork and even pieces of technology that make the world a better place. In the vast majority of cases though, professionals such as engineers and architects have built all these fabulous things. These experts combine their knowledge with experience to create truly amazing things. However, these men and women will usually depend on high quality materials or items that have been ordered specifically for a project. These building blocks are essential to creating high quality finished products, especially when buildings or construction projects must meet regulations and laws to ensure they are safe to use and offer no risks.
Sometimes though, it isn’t an expert using specific and expensive materials to create an unbelievable object. Rather, it can be an ordinary person with the drive to create something exceptional using whatever they can get their hands on. While the things the people featured in this article have made are special simply because of the time and effort that went into building them, they are made all the more amazing by the fact that they were built almost entirely out of junk. Every entry has utilized scrap, recycled material or just plain garbage as the building block to create their masterpieces.
10. Electric Windmills
William Kamkwamba is a Malawian villager, who in 2009, helped his local population to generate their own electricity. The then teenager had to quit school (aged just 14) because his family could not afford the fees, but continued his education using a small library. Eventually he came across a textbook that contained information on windmills that could generate electricity and pump water. Using parts from rubbish tips, the villager created a rudimentary windmill from things including a tractor fan blade, a shock absorber, plastic pipes and bicycle parts. The device was used to provide constant lighting to his family home. Kamkwamba then built further windmills out of other spare parts and junk to work water pumps and provide power to most of the village, in a country where only 2% of the population has access to electricity.
9. Micro Houses
A 35-year-old began building tiny houses and shelters in 2012, out of scavenged materials and items that had been discarded by their previous owners. Derek Diedricksen has since created a number of the small structures all for as little as $200. While the insides are usually furnished with some comfortable luxuries, such as carpets, the vast majority of the construction is made out of junk such as washing machine glass, wood from cabinets and old sheet metal. Diedricksen first began building the micro houses for fun but has since thought about using them for things such as music festivals, instead of tents, or even to help provide shelter to homeless people.
8. A Car
The Z59 is a car, inspired by the Ariel Atom, which was built entirely out of junk and spare parts. Constructed by a Flickr user, the vehicle took more than 15 months to complete and an estimated 800 hours of work. Every part, from the throttle to the engine, is made out of second hand material. Some of the items used in construction include an old kayak, discarded metal pipes, an engine from a scrapped Acura RSX and kitchen appliances. Even more incredible is the fact that the car is completely road legal, meaning that it can be driven around just like a commercially built vehicle, and can produce 160 horsepower. This allows the Z59 to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour, in an impressive 4.5 seconds.
7. A Cathedral
Justo Gallego Martinez, also known as Don Justo, first began building a cathedral in a small part of Madrid, in 1961. Since that time, the former monk has created an incredibly large structure (almost singlehandedly) that includes a library, cloisters, a crypt and several chapels. The 89-year-old relies mainly on recycled construction materials, as well as donations of rejected bricks from a local company to build the cathedral. Justo though, has never applied for planning permission and because he has used rejected materials and has no training, the building itself fails to adhere to guidelines and local laws. This means that it is unlikely to ever be used as an official church, but officials from the area have allowed the construction work to continue because the people from the town enjoy it and it brings in a steady stream of visitors to a place that isn’t awash with tourists.
6. A Castle
After Jim Bishop dropped out of school at the age of just 15, he set about constructing his own private castle in Colorado. For the last 40 years, the castle has expanded hugely and Bishop continues to add to it regularly as a way of relaxing and relieving stress. Built almost entirely by himself, the castle is made up of rock from the surrounding areas and junk that has either been donated or acquired from various locations. The structure itself takes up a huge amount of space and comes with towers that reach heights of 250 feet, as well as bridges connecting different parts of the building. To top it all off there is also a sculpture of a dragon that appears to breathe fire and smoke, thanks to an improvised stove.
5. Backyard Rollercoaster
Roller coasters are already pretty scary things. They are designed specifically to terrify you by making you think you are going to die, when in fact, you know that they are perfectly safe and built by professionals. Roller coasters built in a backyard are completely different though, because the fear that you might die isn’t negated by the fact it was not built by a team of engineers. That hasn’t stopped people like John Ivers from using scrap metal to create a fully functioning roller coaster, just outside their own home. Overall, the cost of the project was just $1,500, but it took around 1,000 hours of work to complete the 444-feet long ride that can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour.
4. A Robot
A group of students from the University of the West of England built a robot that can be pre-programmed with a variety of tasks out of junk and recycled material. Most of the parts came from household objects, including a light from a Land Rover, fans from a computer tower and even some electronic parts from a PlayStation 3. While the design and building costs eventually grew to a figure of $20,000, the device is still significantly cheaper than similar commercially available products that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The robot was submitted to a competition dedicated to autonomous underwater vehicles in 2012, and the University students hope that the robot could go on to search out underwater mines, clean oil rigs and to map out underwater currents.
3. Wi-Fi Network
While internet access has become an essential part of everyday life for many in the West, it is easy to forget that in some areas of the world, it is a luxury that takes a back seat to more pressing concerns for governments. Afghanistan is one such country, where the vast majority of the land does not have any official wireless internet access. To combat this problem, and allow villagers and the local hospital and University to communicate more effectively, a small team developed the FabFi open-source wireless system. It allows anyone to connect to the network by constructing nodes that can be built from locally available junk material, such as metal and plastic, and transfer data at speeds of up to 11.5Mbit/s. The success of the project has led to it being expanded into other areas of Afghanistan, as well as countries such as Kenya.
2. A Moveable Island
Raishee Sowa is a carpenter and artist who lived out his dream by building his own island to live on. The floating home was relatively small compared to some other islands, but was fully capable of moving around, meaning that Sowa could travel to different locations without ever having to leave his home. It was built from spare materials that he had available, including wood and bamboo, and floated thanks to a collection of more than 250,000 empty water bottles. The island itself contained everything needed to live on, including facilities such as a washing machine, as well as a large house with several bedrooms and other luxuries.
In 2014, several workers at a scrapyard in China were bored and decided to build a large statue of a Transformer, out of some of the spare metal that wasn’t being recycled. The statue became popular with locals and helped increase the amount of business the scrapyard was doing, so the employees went on to build even more Transformers, until they eventually had more than 40 scattered throughout their premises. The statues can even move thanks to the fact that they are often built with movable parts, allowing legs and arms to swing freely and be positioned in various ways. All the scrap hasn’t gone to waste either, as the figures can also be bought for a price of around $16,000 each.