Planes, Trains and Subway Cars!

It’s the ultimate way to recycle: reuse structures and adapt them for living and work space. Planes, cars, railcars, boats, subway cars, and trucks all have good bones that can easily be built upon and modified into something usable. We’ve been seeing a lot of these adaptive reuse projects popping up and wanted to highlight a few of our favorites.


Sleeper Car Studio Apartment

If you’re like us, as a kid you might have had an obsession with the Boxcar Children too. Their creativity and innovation to live on their own inside a rail car was inspiring and exciting. Like the Boxcar Children, Marc Riera designed this studio space inside of a 1949 sleeper car in Portland. The modern interior is complete with DSL, new stainless steel windows, grid connection, and incinerator powered toilet.


The 85 foot long car is surprisingly roomy with plenty of room for a kitchen, living space and bedroom. The sleeper car is located on a private lot in Southeast Portland and is actually on the market for $225,000. The rail car could easily be moved anywhere you want by simply hooking it up to a train engine and pulling it there on an existing rail line.



2-Bedroom Plane Hotel Suite

Airplanes also make for a good structural skeleton, since they deal with high speeds and repetitive landings and takeoffs. This 1965 Boeing 727 once carried globetrotters around Africa and South America, and now it serves as a swanky two-bedroom suite at theCosta Verde Resort in Costa Rica. Taken from it’s graveyard at the San Jose airport, the plane was transported piece by piece on 5 big trucks to bring it this resort on the edge of the Manuel Antonio National Park near Quepos, Costa Rica.


Set up on top of a 50 foot pedestal, guests of this hotel suite have inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean from their recycled room. The interior is paneled from tip to tail with locally harvested teak wood, and not as eco-friendly teak furnishings imported from Indonesia. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite also has a kitchenette, dining area and beautiful veranda, which is perfect for watching the sunset.



Subway Car Artist Studios

There are also a lot of empty subway cars being retired from active duty. An innovative art and design organization in London, Village Underground, decided to recycled ex London Underground subway cars into studio space for artists. The studio cars now sit on top of a Victorian warehouse, which is a flexible multi-use space for gallery shows, exhibits, parties and meeting space.


Artists, writers, film makers, fashion designers, musicians and more are welcome to work in the revamped subway cars at a very affordable low-cost rent. Only the original seating was removed, in fact all the levers and buttons are still in tact at the end of each car. Tables, chairs, couches, bean bags and power outlets were brought in to make them functioning for the artists.



Van Studio Apartment

The last example of creative and adaptive reuse of retired transportation equipment is an old transport van that has converted into a studio apartment. Dubbed the “Peggy M” by the owners of the studio, it gets 15 miles per gallon, but does run on biodiesel. The Ford Econoline-350 was almost completely outfitted with free things off craigslist – even an upright piano, table and chairs, work shop space, and two mattresses that hang overhead on a pulley system. The artists drove around and sold paintings out of the back.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *