Homeowner Brews a Canny Cladding


Some might not consider a house clad in thousands of beer cans a landmark—but Houston, TX, sure does.

The boozy abode has been generating some intoxicating headlines.

The project began in the early ’70s, when Houston resident John Milkovisch cut open and flattened more than 50,000 aluminum beer cans to cover his single-family home, according to the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which restores and maintains the home.

Talk about adaptive reuse! And he didn't stop there.

Decorative garland made from the can tops hangs from the home’s roof. The garland not only made the house “sing in the wind, but also lowered the family’s energy bills,” the center said.

‘Easier than Painting’

Adorning his home in beer cans was a “good idea” and “easier than painting,” Milkovisch is quoted as saying on the owner's website.

But his zero-maintenance landscaping came first. Before trying his hand at cladding, Milkovisch apparently “got sick of mowing the grass,” so he inlaid thousands of rocks, metal pieces and marbles into concrete and redwood in his front and back yards.

John Milkovisch
 Photo by Janice Rubin; courtesy of Orange Show Center for Visionary Art

Milkovisch, who put away a six pack of beer daily (with help from neighbors and his wife), was said to have enjoyed the project as a pastime and did not consider it a work of art.

In total, it took the retired upholsterer for the Southern Pacific Railroad 18 years to decorate and design his home and yard. He passed away in the mid-1980s. His wife, Mary, remained in the house until her death in the mid-1990s.

Milkovisch was said to have enjoyed the project as a hobby, rather than considering it a work of art.

Restoration Ongoing

The Orange Show Center acquired the home after Mary Milkovisch died . The center says it has spent years carefully restoring the original work where possible and recreating artistic elements where necessary.

beer can house
Photo by David Brown; courtesy of Orange Show Center

Continual restoration work on the folk art home is required, as time and Houston's climate fade the cans.

The restoration work is continual, as time and the Houston climate fade and deteriorate the folk art home.

The Beer Can House is open to visitors.

But before you pack the cooler, know that Houston is not the only place to lay claim to a beer-fortified building. The Wat Lan Kuad (Million Bottle Temple) building in Thailand might be worth the trip.

As Pamela Simmons writes in a blog post, "Anyone who appreciates a good beer now and then knows that it can taste like heaven, but the Buddhist monks of Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew raised the beverage's status even closer to godliness when they built Wat Lan Kuad."


Tagged categories: Adaptive reuse; Aluminum; Architecture; Artists; Cladding; Color; Color + Design; Design; Energy efficiency; Recycled building materials

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