A New Take on a Southern Classic: Solar LED Bottle Tree

A New Take on a Southern Classic: Solar LED Bottle Tree

Joelle Alcaidinho
Feb 22, 2011

Renovations that find a way to preserve the space and incorporate modern tech are always a favorite, but there was something about this space in particular that caught our eye. Was our fascination with this space and project due to our time spent in the South sipping sweet tea on porches? Or is it thanks to a longing for winter to be over and to enjoy outdoor entertaining again? Or is it simply because this project manages to encompass the spirit of the area and is a great melding of classic traditions and new technology?

Robert Rausch's GAS Design Center is housed in a formerly abandoned building on the waterfront in Alabama. Both the interior and exterior were renovated to provide a space for artists to live and work. The outdoor patio provided a great space for design interns to enjoy meals on the back patio, but come evening the space had no light and no electricity. Taking a cue from the Southern tradition of bottle trees, Rausch created this unique solar LED lighting.

Using solar LED Christmas lights and leftover construction rebar, Rausch added bottles that have been slumped, or heated until they sag, for a drippy, melted effect to make this light fixture. The fixture subtly lights the space, and Rausch says they glow "like bright candlelight," which is a perfect match for the feel of the 1909 home.

While this project is not suitable for the average DIYers, as ReadyMade rates it as a "Hard" project which requires more than a weekend to build, it is definitely a great source of inspiration for maybe a more modest project. The entire renovation of the 20,000 foot waterfront space is inspirational as well with most of the architectural details preserved.

For the complete instructions, check out ReadyMade. For more images of the renovated space, take a peek at the New York Times slide show.

(Images Jack Thompson for ReadyMade and Flickr members American Backroom and Kevin Jackson licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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