Guatemala bottle schools

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.

School in La Cereza, foto
Scheme of PET bottle wall according to Eric Baker

Bottle School in Rizal Laguna

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.