Ask yourself: Would you live in a house made of sh*t? What about one made from hemp? Could you see yourself working in an office building comprised of recycled shipping containers? Architects and designers are finding strange, but ingenious ways, of rethinking where we spend our days working and living.

Cow dung isn't usually thought of as house-building material, but a team of students from Prasetiya Mulya Business School in Indonesia have managed to build high-quality, low-cost bricks from the stuff. The team's invention, dubbed "EcoFaeBrick," won the $25,000 top prize at the University of California, Berkeley's Global Social Venture Competition.

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Hemp is useful for more than just summer camp necklaces and niche clothing items, according to researchers at the University of Bath. The university's BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials has discovered that hemp bound together with a lime-based adhesive creates a building material with a "better than zero" carbon footprint. In other words, the material's energy-efficient properties combined with lime's low carbon footprint completely negate its carbon use.

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Imagine coming home like this: You step inside a seven-story atrium and ride the elevators to a loft overlooking tasteful clumps of trees and artificial ponds. The Bell Labs campus in Holmdel, New Jersey was built in 1961. By 2006 it was owned by Lucent which chose to abandon it rather then pay for upgrades. Somerset Development has taken over with the promise to preserve the structure, by turning the skylit atrium into an indoor main street with shops and sidewalks, and by inserting lofts on the top floor.

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Downsizing to a shed may seem like a drastic step to take, but U.K-based FKDA Architects is hoping you'll do just that. Its micro-home, built from FSC-certified wood and insulated with cellulosic fiber derived from recycled newspapers, is hardly a garden shed. It comes with a skylight, radiant underfloor heating, energy-efficient appliances, ample storage space, LED lighting, and optional solar photovoltaic and hot water heating systems. From the looks of it, FDKA's shed is just as nice as a standard studio apartment.

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Jim Stewart poured $24 million into building his dream home. It curves at nearly every point, and is nestled on a hill outside Toronto. But that's not what makes the house special. Stewart, a math professor, one-time world class concert violinist, and inveterate party host, wanted to build a home that would suit his every need, so the house doubles as a concert hall, seating 150 people with standing room for 50 more.

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Like a handful of other architects, Adam Kalkin began using containers as a gritty reaction against the tidy white surfaces of modernism. Kalkin has used them to design luxurious homes, museum additions, and refugee housing. His book, Quik Build: Adam Kalkin's ABC of Container Architecture, shows 32 of his projects, including Bunny Lane, a home he built for himself with a 19th century cottage inside an industrial hanger, and the Push Button House, a furnished room that unfolds from a container.

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Forget living in a home made of recycled shipping containers, what about working in one? Rhode Island's upcoming Box Office project is a more ambitious attempt at making use of the corrugated steel boxes. Slated to be completed in March 2010, the Box Office will be constructed from 32 shipping containers painted in bright hues. The three-story, 10,000-square-foot building is designed by Peter Gill Case, Principal at Truth Box, Inc. It will feature 12 office and studio units.

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When the employees at Nothing, an Amsterdam ad agency, say they work out of a cardboard box, most people are probably think they're making a joke about their cheap-o bosses. They're not, and the bosses aren't being cheap at all. Rather, they commissioned Alrik Koudenburg and Joost van Bleiswijk to create all of their office furniture using only cardboard.

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The Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano have created a studio for their firm, Selgascano, nestled in the woods near Madrid. The office is encased in a long pod-like tube that is half-submerged in the ground to diminish its profile on the land. The north facing wall of the tube is enclosed in curving transparent acrylic, which allows staffers some exposure to the seasons and a dappled light filtering through the overhanging trees.

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You can always have the best of both worlds and work from home. After years of chatter about the virtues of working remotely, the home office may have finally reached a tipping point due to new technology that keeps workers connected. That accounts for the surge of interest in backyard structures like the OfficePod, by a British firm, or Kithaus, sold by Design Within Reach.

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From Shipping Containers to Concert Halls: The 10 Oddest Places to Work or Live

Ask yourself: Would you live in a house made of sh*t? What about one made from hemp? Could you see yourself working in an office building comprised of recycled shipping containers? Architects and designers are finding strange, but ingenious ways, of rethinking where we spend our days working and living.

Ask yourself: Would you live in a house made of sh*t? What about one made from hemp? Could you see yourself working in an office building comprised of recycled shipping containers? Architects and designers are finding strange, but ingenious ways, of rethinking where we spend our days working and living.

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