The Eco Ark built by MINIWIZ in Taiwan is a building of which the façade and walls are filled with non-load bearing PET bottles. The Eco Ark is a very large building intended originally for the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo (its length is 130 meters and width 40 meters, the height is 85 metres). Because of the size, public function, and safety requirements filling the façade and walls of such a building with regular PET bottles is hardly possible because it cannot be proven that these requirements will be met. Instead, in the Eco Ark specially developed PET bottles by MiniWIZ Sustainable Energy Development were used – the so-called POLLI-brick. The POLLI-brick is a PET bottle with a highly specific new interlocking shape. It is produced from recycled PET bottles – these are washed, cut, and re-melted into granules that form the base material for the POLLI brick. To create all the required POLLI bricks for the Eco Ark, in total 1.8 million PET bottles were recycled.
The building is designed by Arthur Huang, a graduate of Taiwan and Harvard. The building is supposed to withstand fire and the prevailing strong winds. It is also supposed to cost a third of the regular cost and weigh half of usual construction weight. To add additional stability to the wall fill-in, The POLLI bricks need to be glued with a small amount of silicon between the bottles.
The project of United Bottle was developed by Dirk Hebel, Tobias Klauser and Jörg Stollmann. It is a PET water bottle and a building unit at the same time, which can be normally recycled. It can be distributed in six-packs on containers and collected in plastic waste containers. This makes the bottle suitable for application in catastrophy-hit regions where both drinking water and building material are scarce and in need. The bottle can be used repeatedly for water storage, but there is also a second use: it can be filled with heavy material such as sand and dirt, and then used as a brick. It can also be left empty and used as a building element for a light-weight structure such as an indoor pavilion.
The concept of United Bottle is intended to solve both the garbage problem and the housing need for areas destroyed by hurricane or tsunami. The bottles can be used to build stable walls for temporary and long term shelter – these structures can be covered by tents or other membrane structures. The pieces lock into each other which gives additional stability and resistance to torsion. In 2007 the first prototype of the United Bottle was 3D printed by stereolithography.
La Casa Botellas in Puerto Iguazu in Argentina is the work of Alfredo Santa Cruz, who is neither architect nor engineer. Initially he built a play-house for his daughter from recycled materials and found the result so fascinating that he decided to continue. He built a residence for his family much in the same spirit as Andreas Froese discusses earlier in this book: to solve the garbage problem in combination with housing shortage. Within the wooden frame he placed about 1200 PET bottles as filling; he made curtains out of the bottle caps, and the roof contains 1300 re-used tetrapackages.
A house made of 13,500 plastic bottles was built by a retired proffesor of mathematics Tomislav Radovanovič. Only the foundation is made of concrete. With the help of his students, compeltion of this house took the builder 5 years. Not only the floor, the walls and the columns and the roof is made of plastics, the house is also equipped with articles made of PET bottles. The kitchen table and the chairs, the lights and even the bathroom was designed from plastics. Some bottles are filled with concrete. some with silicon and the rest is left empty. The shape of the bottles is changed in some cases with the use of heat and wooden or steel mould. Some decorative pieces were painted by the author. Additionally 2500 caps were used just for decoration.
In Guatemala a technique is used which was invented by Susanne Heisse. Plastic bottles are filled with plastic garbage found on the streets: plastic bags, wrappings, pieces of styrofoam, and so on. The bottles remain light and obtain a slightly higher isolation value. For the construction of the building it is necessary to construct a simple frame, either of wood or concrete. The bottles are fixed within the frame between two layers of chicken wire fencing. The wall is then covered and stiffened with cement mortar.
Because of the climate conditions there is no need for very high isolation values. The bottles are only used as filling to reduce the amount of cement that is necessary to make the walls. There also plays the role empowerment: the school children and people of the neighborhood are involved in the construction of their own school which is possible because the technology is very straightforward and does not involve trained labour. Finally, the participants learn from this how to build structures from on-site resources and garbage.
Case del Fe (Faith House) is a house built for the Hondurian Foundation for Rehabilitation and integration of handicapped people. This building does not feature a green roof. For pillars, Andreas Froese used vehicle wheel rims to create columns.
The Japanese architect Tadao Ando designed a spectacular wall incorporating 17 400 PET bottles of 0,5 liter for the interior of the Morimoto restaurant in New York City. The bottles are filled with mineral water. The bottles are mounted horizontally on a frame by means of couplers. There are also LED lights at the couplers so that in this way the wall becomes a lighting element in the restaurant. The electricity is led horizontally on a bracing. The wall is two floors high.
The My Shelter foundation (led by Illac Angelo Diaz) acquired site from the local government in San Pablo and sponsorship by Pepsi to build their first PET bottle school in Asia on the Philippines. For the school construction, 9000 PET bottles were collected during a public run in San Pablo and filled with mud, sand, straws, and even manure, all of this mixed with water. The space between the bottles is also filled with adobe which later simply dries in the sun. The structure is strenghtened by steel bars.
There exist several examples of such schools, most often realized by non-governmental organisations, such as My Shelter and Hug it Forward. Building the object is usually just visible result of primar intentions: community support together with cleaner landscape. The latter has already built a number of schools in Guatemala. The precursor of Hug it Forward is the independent organization Pura-vida founded by Susana Heisse in 2005.
This ECO activist and former East German prisoner founded the Pura Vida organization in order to help people in solving the garbage problem in the village of San Marcos. Two years later it moved to Lake Atitlan to form an Ecological movement: Susana Heisse invented the technology of ECO-brick: a PET bottle stuffed with oter plastic garbage. The ECO-brick is light, insulating and sustainable building unit using only local resources. When cleaned and closed its hygienic and shows safer behaviour during earthquakes.
After a hurricane Stan in 2005 Susana Heisse realized garbage could be turned into cheap building material. In 2008 Pura Vida developed their first Alternative Recycle Manual (www.puravidaatitlan.org), where communities around the world can learn how to transform garbage into construction.
Campo Cielo is a sort of club room for women realized in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 2004 by Andreas Froese. It offers shelter for about eight people. The building has an integrated water tank which required that cement had to be used in order to protect the earth mortar from water.
Froese usually does not apply cement in the walls of the buildings, but rather relies on earth mortar to stick the PET bottles together (see for example also the Trivadrum Cerala in India on this page).