Gauteng and NW Province

Africa’s 1st plastic bottle house

‘With a serious housing shortage but no shortage of plastic bottles littering the streets, the Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE) – an NGO based in Nigeria – decided to build an incredible two-bedroom bungalow entirely out of plastic bottles. Although many in Kaduna were dubious when the project began construction, the complete home is bullet- and fire-proof, earthquake resistant, and maintains a comfortable interior temperature of 18 degree Celsius year-round’ says Tafline Laylin.

The bottles, packed with sand, are placed on their side, one on top of the other and bound together with mud. Each house – with one bedroom, living room, bathroom, toilet and kitchen – uses an estimated 7,800 plastic bottles. Yahaya Ahmed of Nigeria’s DARE, estimates that a bottle house will cost one third of what a similar house made of concrete and bricks would cost. It is also more durable. “Compacted sand inside a bottle is nearly 20 times stronger than bricks,” he says. “We are even intending to build a three-storey building.”

According to market research most water in Nigeria is sold in small plastic bags, but the bottled water market is growing – accounting for about 20-25% of official sales. This means discarded plastic bottles are actually sought after in Nigeria where they are often used for storage or by street vendors to sell produce like peanuts. The bottles for these houses are currently being sourced from hotels, restaurants, homes and foreign embassies.

The project is also hoping to help to remove children who do not go to school from their life on the streets. “I don’t want to be a beggar, I want to work and get paid – that is why I am doing this job,” says 15-year-old Shehu Usman, who is working on the building site. “When I grow old I want to build myself a house with bottles,” he says. After the 25 houses have been completed, the next construction project for DARE will be a school, which street children like Shehu will be able to attend.

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