Alt Use – 10 Cool Projects That Give Urban Places And Personal Spaces A New Lease On Life



The term “alt use” has become a catchall encompassing all sorts of clever upcycling of everything from tree stumps to discarded airplanes. And if you keep your eyes open, there is no shortage of fantastic projects creating new and inventive uses for the spaces we move through daily, be they the street corner, the laundromat or our homes.

To whet your appetite, we’ve looked around and come up with some wacky and wonderful examples of this growing trend. So check out these ideas and get inspired to do something different and change up your interactions with your everyday places.

Play A Tune On A Street Sign

Take a drive down a street in the coastal state of Ceará, Brasil, and you might see somebody rocking out whilst playing a mini set of conga drums attached to an ordinary signpost. Closer inspection reveals a telltale musical note instead of the standard traffic symbol.

Such is the vision of artist Narcello Grud, who has reconfigured these pillars of order into a whole percussion section from stringed instruments to xylophones, bringing a sense of fun and a smile to the faces of all who encounter them.

Just watch the video and put on your dancing shoes.

Take A Trip To The Sky



No security lines here, just a climb up a steep flight of steps and you are all set to relax in what is potentially the coolest hotel room in Costa Rica. Inspired by a magazine article touting refurbished fuselages as the ultimate hurricane-proof lodging, the folks at the Hotel Costa Verde rescued a 727 from the scrap heap and created a tropical paradise you may never want to leave!

Talk Trash On The Court


In the United States we make commercials asking people to “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” In Switzerland, they turn tossing your trash into a game by transforming garbage cans into basketball hoops. Now we understand why the streets are so clean over there…

Tower Over Your Neighbors


The original builders of this water tower actually put a house on top for fun, but it didn’t become an actual residence until years later. The decommissioned tower was bought by intrepid souls who converted the “house” into an actual home. Now they’ve got the best view in town!

Experience Double Happiness


How much cooler would it be to look up at a billboard and see live people having a blast on a swingset instead of another ad for the latest SUV? Well in Hong Kong, you can do just that with this amazing piece of urban furniture.

Designed by the Didier Faustino of the french architecture firm Mésarchitecture, the piece (aptly titled Double Happiness) both engages with and separates you from your physical surroundings creating a unique and magical experience for all involved.

Reside In A Ship


Originally built in 1936 by Henry Ford as a pleasure cruiser, the ship formerly known as the Benson Ford was, by the mid 80’s, scheduled to be scrapped at the Port of Cleavland, Ohio. Salvation came in the form of an inventive couple who took one look at the elegant state rooms and passenger lounge and wanted to transform it into a home.

The Ship Residence, as it is now known, sits on a bluff overlooking the waters of Lake Erie, keeping a bit of the golden industrialist age alive for all who sail by this singular space.

Plant A Phone Booth


Because hey, who uses these things anymore, anyway? May as well turn them into something positive. Or at least, that’s what Canadian street artist Posterchild thinks.

Brimming with all sorts of subversive-yet-excellent ideas about free public phone service, he figured the least he could do was make the oft ignored structures useful for something other than as platforms for advertising. This way we can enjoy them while we wait for the world to be cool enough to set up free phones for taxis and tourist info, just for starters.

Stay In A Silo


The term Bed and Breakfast becomes a bit more literal when you’re resting up in a grain silo. These two inns (Abbey Road Farm, and the Gruene Homestead Inn respectively) both located on farms, make ingenious use of these giant round storage containers, turning them into stylish and comfortable accommodations for the intrepid traveler.

Have A Seat On A Stump


Hoofing it around Paris can be exhausting, but thanks to artist Arno Piroud you can take a load off creatively by sitting in one of his tree stump-cum-chairs (or assises éphémères for the french speakers among us.) When a spreading tree virus dictated that a number of trees be cut down, the creative sculptor and installation artist took advantage of a bad situation and created additional municipal seating that is as beautiful as it is functional. Leave it to the French!

Turn Your Boat Upside Down


These upside down fishing boats, located on England’s remote Holy Island, make for intimate and snug lodging with a minor foundation and the one simple modification of a door carved into the broad stern. If the need arises, they can be easily transformed back into fishing boats, making them truly versatile objects that will never sit idle!

What kind of alt use projects are you getting up to these days? Let us know in the comments!

  • Good morning :) I was interested enough your post :) I do not usually comment on blogs but here I am! I really liked your blog :)

  • Pat S

    I thought the swings were awesome. I don’t like heights so I know I wouldn’t be up that high swinging.

  • Vanessa Londono

    That’s a great one! I love the swings created from old billboards.

  • Pat S

    I love all the creative ways things are being reused for homes and art. My favorite is the phone booth planter for its simplicity.